Senate completes work on MTEF, target debates on 2017 budget, raises oil benchmark to $44.5
There are signals that the National Assembly is closing ranks with the federal government in the struggle to exit recession as soon as possible considering the speed with which it has approved the revised version of the 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP).
In line with the speed of service delivery, it has also began works on the 2017 budget as it technically upped the oil benchmark from the proposed $42.5 to $44.5.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had in October 2016 sent the MTEF/FSP to the Senate, which will serve as the foundation for the 2017, 2018 and 2019 national budgets.
The President had also on December 15, 2026, presented the 2017 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly, with a total estimate of N7.298tn. The legislature has yet to work on the budget for to the delayed passage of the MTEF/FSP.Other critical decisions taken by the upper chambers include retaining the oil output of 2.2 million barrel per day and exchange rate of N305 to a United States dollar.
They also adopted the proposals as recommended by the joint Committee on Finance, Appropriations and National Planning in its report, which was presented to the lawmakers at the plenary.
In his ruling, the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, described the passage as “a very important step towards the passage of the 2017 budget.”
According to him, “Hopefully, if we pass this MTEF/FSP, we will be in the position to comment on the consideration of the 2017 budget by next week. It is therefore important that we conclude the discussion on this subject and ensure that it is passed today.
“Having listened to the comments, it appears to me that the only area that needs to be emphasised is the issue of the exchange rate. We are worried with the huge gap between the parallel market and the official market and as it has been said by the Chairman of Appropriations (Committee), the Central Bank (of Nigeria) needs to do something about it because it is one thing that is breeding corruption.
“We must find a way of bridging that gap and also stabilise the exchange rate so that investors can do its own forecast in terms of their investments. We believe that something needs to be done in the area of the exchange rate,”