FEC approves 2019 budget proposal
To liaise with NASS for presentation By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
The Federal Executive Council, FEC, on Friday, approved the 2019 budget proposal. FEC made the approval at its special session presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja. Though the meeting was scheduled to take one hour, it lasted for about two hours thirty minutes as it started by 10:30am and ended around 1.pm Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the session, the Minister of Budget and Planning, Udoma Udoma said the Council will liaise with the National Assembly to determine when the president will submit the draft estimates for the consideration of the two chambers. When asked to give details of the budget proposal, he declined to disclose the details, saying that the Nigerian constitution only allows the president to give out the details and that the President would do so when the National Assembly is ready to receive the draft The FEC had on 24th October approved the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) for the 2019 -2021 to provide template for the 2019 budget. The session which was presided over by President Buhari approved a budget estimate of N8.73tr for the 2019 budget, N400bn lower than that of this year. It will be recalled that, Udoma, had last month announced that the federal government was considering a leaner 2019 budget of N8.6 trillion, which is leaner than the N9.1 trillion approved by lawmakers for 2018. He had explained at a consultative forum on the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) and fiscal strategy paper (FSP) 2019-2021, that the decision was due to reduced government revenue projection for the year. Udoma also said government planned to cut down the level of borrowing from N1.6 trillion in 2018 to N1.5 trillion in 2019, while the deficit component would be reduced from N1.9 trillion in 2018 to N1.6 trillion. In spite of the recent oil output drop to about 1.9 million barrels per day, Udoma said government was optimistic the 2.3 million barrels a day target was achievable with production now rising to about 2.15 million barrels a day and new oil productions being put into play. Although a $50 per barrel oil price benchmark was proposed in the ERGP, the minister had expressed confidence that with a significant rise in the price above $80 per barrel currently, government has proposed a $60 per barrel oil price for the budget. He further stated that N305 was proposed as exchange rate to the dollar, with government working to keep inflation down after slight increases in the last two months on the heels of 18 months consecutive decline. The projected target gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate for the budget was put at 3.01 per cent, reduced from 4.5 per cent in the ERGP; 3.6 per cent in 2020 and 3.9 per cent in 2021. According to him, “Growth is expected to increase from 0.8 per cent in 2017 to 2.1 per cent this year and 3.01 per cent in 2019 with the continued implementation of the ERGP in 2019 and improved outlook for oil prices.” On revenue, Udoma had said based on the oil price and oil production assumptions, government expected to generate about N3.6 trillion from oil, up by about N500 billion from last year’s figure. About N6.9 trillion revenue is projected to be available to the budget in 2019. With other projections showing government expects to collect less revenue from some independent sources, he said only about N624 billion is expected to be realised, against about N847 billion in the 2018 budget, among others.