Thursday, September 19, 2013

FG proposes N14tn budget for three years

The Federal Government has proposed a total of N14.07tn as budget for the next three years, with a proposal to spend N4.495tn in the 2014 fiscal year.

The 2014 proposal is N425bn less than the N4.92tn proposed by the Federal Government for 2013.

It also proposed N4.743tn and N4.839tn for the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years, respectively.

These were contained in the 2014-2016 Medium Term Expenditure Framework submitted to the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday.

The document, which was obtained by our correspondents in Abuja on Wednesday, stated that the 2014 budget figure represented a 9.57 per cent drop from the 2013 budget of N4.987tn.

The government also projects that crude oil production will drop from the current 2.526 million barrels per day to 2.388 million bpd in 2014.

The MTEF also set $74 as the oil price benchmark for the 2014 fiscal period against the 2013 benchmark of $79 per barrel.

According to the document, the Excess Crude Account, whose balance stood at about $9bn at the end of 2012, declined to about $5bn in June 2013, following a series of draw downs to meet revenue shortfalls arising from the disruption of oil production.

The government stated in the document, “We have projected crude oil production for 2014 to be 2.3883mbpd. This figure is lower than 2.526mbpd budgeted in 2013.

“It is hoped that government’s efforts at tackling the (oil theft) problem will yield further results in the medium term, hence, production is estimated at 2.5007mbpd and 2.5497mbpd for 2015 and 2016.”

The document stated that the implementation of 2013 budget was on course, adding that as of the end of the second quarter, a total of N600bn had been released for the implementation of capital projects with cash backing of N598.89bn.

This, the government said, was due to the revenue challenges occasioned by reduced inflows for oil and non-oil revenue sources.

Of this amount, the actual utilisation as of the end of July was 71.5 per cent.

This is coming on a day the Senate resolved to begin deliberations on the MTEF and Fiscal Strategy Paper presented to it by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Projections contained in the METF are expected to drive revenue generation efforts, as the document contains essential features such as the production quota, oil benchmark and revenue projection, which will guide Senators to legislate on the proposed 2014 budget.

The President of the Senate, David Mark, who presided over Wednesday’s plenary, advised his colleagues to study the document well, preparatory to proper deliberations on the budget when further details were provided.

Earlier, the Senate had unanimously agreed to review the 2013 budget performance on another legislative day so as to ascertain the true state of the nation’s economy.

This was sequel to a point of order moved by Senator Abdul Ningi, who drew the attention of his colleagues to a statement credited to the Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama, that the 2013 budget was no longer implementable.

Ningi said he was worried by the minister’s statement, which he noted should be a matter of great concern to his colleagues because the senior public officer had yet to deny the report.

He observed that part of the minister’s argument was that the benchmark being used for the budget was over bloated and had made it impossible to implement.

Ningi insisted that the alleged declaration by the minister should be discussed because the benchmark fixed for the 2013 budget was $79 whereas the current price of the commodity in the international market was $107 per barrel.

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