COVID-19: NASS may amend 2020 budget Wednesday

Both Chambers of the National Assembly have slated Thursday May 28, 2020 as resumption date for consideration of proposed amendments on earlier proposals made for the N10.596trillion 2020 budget now slashed to N9trillion.

The federal lawmakers had on Tuesday last week adjourned plenary for two weeks to observe the just ended Eid-el-Fitr celebration by fixing resumption date for Tuesday, June 2, 2020.

But as a result of the urgency of the proposed amendments , the resumption date has been shifted forward to Thursday this week .

In a statement issued to that effect on Tuesday in Abuja , the Clerk to the National Assembly , Alhaji Mohammed Sani -Omolori , specifically stated that the Thursday plenary is for consideration of amendments proposals made by the executive on the 2020 budget estimates .

The statement dated May 26, 2020 reads : ” This is to informed the Distinguished Senators and Honourable members that resumption earlier scheduled for Tuesday, June 2, 2020 , has now been rescheduled for Thursday , May 28 2020 to enable members consider 2020 Appropriation amendment bill forwarded to them by President Muhamnadu Buhari last week.

The statement added that  the federal lawmakers are expected to be in their respective Chambers by 10:00am prompt .

Both the National Assembly and the presidency , had in December last year approved and signed into law , a total budget profile of N10.59trillion for 2020 fiscal year with $57 US dollar as oil price benchmark, 2.3million as projected oil production per day and N305 as official exchange rate of Naira to Dollar .

But the outbreak of Coronavirus Pandemic with attendant severe blows on economy projections , has made many projected revenues for funding the budget to be unrealisable.

Consequently, as submitted before the leadership of the National Assembly penultimate  Thursday, the Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed,  said the earlier proposed oil price benchmark of $57 per barrel , has been reduced to $25 per barrel due to rapid slides in the prices of crude in the international market.

According to her, as a result of the drastic drop in the oil price in the international market , earlier projected revenues of N8.419trillion of funding the budget , is now slashed to N5.548trillion  which is 34 percent (N2.87 trillion) lower than what was initially approved.

“In line with the global economic outlook and relevant domestic considerations, the assumptions underpinning the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the 2020 Budget was revised to slash crude oil benchmark price from US$57 per barrel to US$25 per barrel; reduce crude oil production benchmark from 2.18 million barrels per day to 1.9 mbpd”, she said.

She added that the federal government also adjusted the budget exchange rate to N360/US$1; and reduced the upfront fiscal deductions by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for mandated Oil and Gas sector expenditures by 65 percent from N1.223 trillion to N424 billion. 

Federal Government’s aggregate expenditure budget she explained, was slashed by N88.412 billion; Statutory Transfer from N560.47 billion to N397.87 billion; and Overhead costs of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government from N302.43 billion to N240.91 billion.

She however said Debt Service provision was  increased from N2.453 trillion to N2.678 trillion.

On Provision of N500 billion for COVID-19 Intervention Fund, the Finance Minister in her presentation explained that N263.63 billion will be sourced from Federal Government Special Accounts, N186.37 billion from Federation Special Accounts and the balance of N50 billion expected as grants and donations.

According to her, “the sum of N186.37 billion will be applied toward COVID-19 interventions across the federation, while an additional N213.60 billion was provided in the Service Wide Votes for COVID-19 Crisis Intervention recurrent expenditures.”

She disclosed that while a total of N100.03 billion was provisioned in the Intervention Fund for new capital spending, the Federal Government carried out a cut in capital expenditures for Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government from N1.564 trillion to N1.262 trillion.

The minister said further that: “it is necessary to reallocate resources in the 2020 budget, to ensure the effective implementation of required emergency measures, and mitigate the negative socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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