2014 Budget: Senate approves 2014-2016 MTEF/FSP

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nigerian-senate1The Senate on Wednesday approved the 2014-2016 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP), an important element for annual budget planning.

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The passage followed the consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriation at its plenary session in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the senators, however, opposed the Excess Crude Account (ECA) and the crude oil benchmark for the period.

The Senate Deputy President, Ike Ekweremadu, called for the establishment of a National Assembly Budget Office to advise federal lawmakers on the complexities in national budgets.

“We need to have a budget office in the National Assembly to help us in analysing the complex nature of national budgets,’’ he said.

Sen. Olubunmi Adetunmbi (APC-Ekiti) urged his colleagues not to pass the document because “the MTEF/FSP contains a lot of unexplained questions and contradictions that we need to figure out’’.

“This is not the type of document that the Senate should pass without a studied look,’’ Adetunmbi said.

In his contribution, Sen. Ita Enang, described the Excess Crude Account (ECA) as “illegal and unconstitutional’’.

Sen. Olugbenga Kaka (APC-Ogun) canvassed for the scrapping of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), citing its “parallel’’ functions with existing government agencies.

The Senate President, David Mark, said the rejection of the MTEF/FSP would deprive them guidance to make their inputs in the 2014 budget to be presented by President Goodluck Jonathan on Nov.19.

Mark said: “we need a document that will help us make our input when we consider the budget. That is what this paper is all about.

“And it has given us all the highlights that we need when we are making our own input into the budget.

“So, if you say reject this paper, then, you are saying reject looking at this input when you are looking at the budget.

“So, there is no question of rejecting the paper. It is a report from our own committee and it is saying that we should look at these issues when considering the budget.

“It is not a matter of assumption. The finance committee has looked at all the figures.’’

According to him, in its recommendations, the committee is saying that the Excess Crude Account is not a legal entity and that government is not rendering a proper account.

“So, if we say no to the report, we are saying Excess Crude Account is a legal entity and that government is giving proper account.

“We should not look at it on any partisan or regional basis. It is a paper that affects the economy of the country and I think the committee has done an excellent job.

“These are the issues we truly need to address when we are making our input into the budget,’’ Mark said.

The Senate approved crude oil production of 2. 3 mbpd, 2.5 mbpd and 2.5 mbpd for 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively, and exchange rate of N160 to one dollar for the next three years.

It also adopted 76.50 dollars per barrel as benchmark price of crude oil as against 74 dollars proposed by the President for 2014.

The Senate pegged Corporate Tax and Value Added Tax (VAT) rate at 30 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively, and approved N572 billion as the projected new borrowing for 2014.

The Senate observed that continued borrowings at high interest would stifle the private sector from the credit market and impact negatively on the economy.

The Senate while adopting the MTEF/FSP urged the government to strengthen and consolidate its fiscal strategy to narrow the gap between projected and actual revenue for the period 2014-2016.

It called on the government to check the increasing incidence of oil theft and ensure that diversification of the economy to increase taxes to boost revenue.

The Senate approved the distribution of N666.9 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to the three tiers of government as proposed by the executive.

Accordingly, N971.14 billion was approved for petroleum product subsidy for the 2014 fiscal year; this was an equivalent to the sum paid in 2013.

According to the Senate report, the key indices contained in the current MTEF/FSP do not show significant improvement in terms of their contribution to economic growth and development.

On the 2013 budget, the Senate report stated that failure of budget implementation had continued to pose a serious drawback to the effort to transform the nation’s fortunes. (NAN)

Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsolahttps://naija247news.com
Babatunde Akinsola is aNaija247news' Southwest editor. He's based in Lagos and writes on the Yoruba Nation political issues, news and investigative reports

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