Senate to pass 2018 budget before end of December

The Senate on Tuesday raised hopes of passing the 2018 budget before the end of the year. It has however raised the $45 oil benchmark price to $47 just as the document passed the second reading.

It has given its committee on Appropriation up till December 19 to submit its report on the N8.612 trillion estimate submitted by the executive arm on November 7.

Consequently, the lawmakers have adjourned plenary session till December 9 to consider the report from the Appropriation committee and other standing committees.

The various committees are to engage the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government on their budget estimates during the short break.

Speaking on the passage of the second reading of the budget, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki urged the various committees to work within the December 19 deadline.

He enjoined the MDAs to comply with the Senate’s timetable and to respect invitations that would be extended to them to come forward to defend their budgets

“This is not time for excuses for Ministers or Heads of parastatals to be traveling and not be able to attend their budget defence.

“We do not have the time. This is a very short timeframe, therefore, I expect all MDAs to be able to respect our invitation and be there on time so that the committees can wrap up and be able to present their reports by the time we come back on Tuesday, December 19”, Saraki said.

Saraki also hinted of the probability of the Senate holding a public hearing on the budget estimates simultaneously with the budget defence exercise.

He said, “There will be a public hearing on the budget. We are looking at Monday, December 11. However, in the next few days, an announcement will be made to that effect”.

The Senate had earlier in the day passed the 2018- 2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) with a raise in oil price benchmark from $45 to $47 per barrel

The Senate’s joint committee on Finance, Appropriation, National Planning and Economic Development that worked on the MTEF had fixed the benchmark at $46 per barrel but was reviewed upward by the Senate in session.

In collaboration with the House of Representatives, the Senate approved all other projected parameters for the implementation of the budget.

The parameters are premised on 2.3million barrel oil production per day, N305 to a US dollar exchange rate and 3.5% GDP growth rate.

Others are N5.79 trillion projected non-oil revenue and N1.699 trillion for new borrowings etc.

The Senate, through a resolution, will insert a clause in the final Appropriation Act that would compel the executive arm to revert to the National Assembly for any expenditure that may be at variance with the approved benchmark.

The resolution followed a motion moved by the Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’ Allah and which was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate.

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