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Reps okay 2019-2021 MTEF/FSP, adopt $60.O/b as crude benchmark price

The House of Representatives, on Wednesday, passed the 2019 to 2021 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) for the 2019 fiscal year.

This followed the adoption of a report of the joint Committees on Finance, Appropriations, Aids, Loans and Debt Management, Legislative Budget and Research and National Planning and Economic Development on the“ MTEF and FSP documents at a plenary presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara in Abuja’’.

The lawmakers, who adopted the recommendations of 2.3 million per barrel as the daily production output of crude oil in 2019, also adopted the recommendations of $60 per barrel as crude benchmark price for the 2019 Budget.

Rep. Babangida Ibrahim (APC-Katsina), Chairman, House Committee on Finance, during the debate, urged the House to adopt the recommendations of the joint committees so that 2019 Budget could be expeditiously considered and passed by the legislature.

He argued that the projection of 2.3 million per barrel as daily production output of crude oil was achievable due to the continuous effort of all stakeholders in checkmating the issues of oil facilities vandalism and other vices associated with such regard.

Ibrahim said that the committees also adopted the recommendation of N305 to $1 as the official exchange rate for the 2019 fiscal year.

He said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should be encouraged to vigorously develop strategies that would strengthen the naira and bridge the gap between the official and parallel market rates.

“On debt management/new borrowing, the committee adopted the recommendation of N1.64 trillion as new borrowing to fund the budget deficit.

“It advised relevant agencies to continue exploring ways of generating additional revenues for government to bring down the fiscal deficit’’.

He enjoined the Federal Government to harness the full optimal potential of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in terms of revenue generation to minimise the level of new borrowing.

The lawmaker urged the Federal Government to consider reducing the granting of waivers and exemptions, also called on the Federal Inland Revenue Service to consider increasing tax on luxury goods and services.

“The Federal Government should ensure that the Nigerian Customs Service personnel are at all oil terminals for accountability,” he added.

According to him, 20 per cent operating surplus to be remitted by government owned enterprises should be deducted at source.

“The committees adopted the sum of N500 billion as Special Intervention Fund and enjoined the cooperation of relevant committees and other relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies in ensuring that the funds are judiciously utilised to provide a positive tangible impact of the funds on the Nigerian people,” he said.

The Speaker, Mr Dogara, who chaired the Committee on Supply, however, urged the Federal Government to shelve the idea of heavy taxation on Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) “if employment generation would be a factor for economic development’’.

He said that the government should rather consider lowering the tax on SMEs to boost the economy.

According to him, increasing tax on SMEs would lead to unemployment as the sectors have the capacity to create more employment if the economic environment is conducive.

When the speaker put the bill on voice vote, the lawmakers unanimously adopted it.

President Muhammadu Buhari had, on Nov. 6, 2018, transmitted the MTEF/FSP document to the House for consideration.

The president had also sent a revised copy in March with key assumptions and macro-framework for the 2019 Budget.

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