The Upper Legislative Chamber on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 commenced deliberations on the 2017 – 2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP). The consideration of the MTEF was sequel to the request of President Muhammadu Buhari in accordance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007, seeking the Chamber’s approval for the three year nation’s financial proposal.
The Bill was presented before the Chamber for second reading debate by the Senate Leader, Muhammed Ali Ndume. He stated that the 2017 – 2019 MTEF is predicated on a benchmark of N290 to 1 dollar, with projected oil production of 2.2 million to 2.3 million barrels per day in 2017 and 2.3 million – 2.4 million barrels per day in 2018 and 2019 at a projected cost of $22.5 per barrel. He added that the MTEF would be used to structure the economy for enhanced productivity that will translate to the transformation of the various sectors of the economy through improved tax drive.
Lending his voice to the debate, Sen. John Enoh called on the Senate to consider the basic assumptions of the 2017 – 2019 MTEF. He urged the government to address as matter of priority the crisis in the Niger Delta which he said is causing the country a huge loss of about 1.2 million barrels of oil per day. He also called on the Senate to look at the indices of inflation rate of the MTEF; drawing attention to the over inflated Value Added Tax (VAT) from 2017 to 2019.
In his contribution, Sen. Dino Melaye criticized the 2017 – 2019 MTEF describing it as a fraud because most of the indices of the MTEF were not in tandem with the current realities of the economy. He cited the projected benchmark of N290 to $1, which he described as unrealistic, considering its current price in both government and parallel markets. He urged the Senate to return the MTEF to the Presidency for a rework by professionals.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki hinted that MTEF is an assumptions and projections of various indices of the annual budgets for period of three years which may or may not be realistic. He added that it is the responsibility of the National Assembly to work on the MTEF to make the annual budget work. He added that the Committees of the legislature can conduct a comprehensive review of the MTEF to make it workable before its passage into law. Consequently, the 2017 – 2019 MTEF has been referred to the Senate
Committees on Appropriation, Finance and National Planning for a comprehensive rework.
Meanwhile, the Senate has received the reports of eleven Committees on the 2016 Annual Budgets of various government agencies.
The reports were laid before the Chamber for further legislative inputs. While the reports of eight Committees pending, are expected to be laid before the Senate by Tuesday next week.