Senate begins consideration of 2017-2019 expenditure framework

By Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki at Wednesday's plenary

The Nigerian Senate, on Wednesday, opened the debate and consideration of the 2017-2019 medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) and fiscal strategy paper (FSP) submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The MTEF/FSP is a three-year planning tool that defines government’s economic, social and development objectives and priorities.

The document gives an insight into each year’s budget, and heralds the presentation of the annual budget before the joint session of the parliament.

According to the MTEF and FSP, the 2017 proposed expenditures have been predicated on an oil benchmark of $42.5 per barrel, with an average oil production of 2.2million barrels per day, and an average exchange rate of =N=290 to a dollar.

It also shows that the government is projecting a 3.02% GDP growth in 2017, while inflation is expected to moderate at 12.92%. The proposal indicates that the non-oil revenue for the 2017-2019 period, would be guided by improved efficiency of collection and expected growth in the non-oil GDP.

President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki noted that the projection on the MTEF and FSP may not be realizable. He, thereafter, referred the document to the committees on finance, appropriation, and national planning to fine-tune it in accordance with the present realities in the country.

JV Cash calls

Meanwhile, the Senate joint committees on gas, petroleum upstream and downstream has begun an investigative public hearing on the implementation of joint venture cash calls obligations by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, between 2011 and 2015.

Chairman of the senate committee on gas, Senator Albert Bassey who heads the panel, told stakeholders that the investigation was not designed to witch hunt anybody.

“All we are trying to achieve as a parliament is to ensure that the mistakes of the past would not be part of the future,” he stated.

Responding to questions from the senators, the GMD of the NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru explained that the arrears of the Joint Venture Cash Calls (JVCC) is made up of the short fall of funding and the interests that had accumulated over the period. He blamed the development on the recurring vandalisation of oil and gas infrastructure.

The NNPC is already working on a JVCC exit model from 2017, which would guarantee government’s earnings to the tune of about $15bn worth of investments.

Senator Kabiru Marafa is the Chairman, Senate committee on Petroleum Downstream, and he tells Voice of Nigeria how the legislature will help to realize this new target.

“They will acquaint us with what the exit policy is all about and we would look at it and see if it is good for Nigeria; we give it all the backing it requires but if it is not good, we suggest modifications and they have to do it.”

Wednesday’s plenary also witnessed the reading of 3 bills for the first time, while 19 reports were presented and laid on the floor of the chamber by various committees.