By JOSES SEDE/ Edith ImoIsili
ABUJA – Baring unforeseen circumstances, the Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, will today, lay N4.357.96 trillion worth Budget 2015 at the table of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Latest revised Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) submitted to the National Assembly earlier, in December 12, 2014, shows a proposed Capital Expenditure of N627.16 for 2015 which is N925.83 billion less than N1.552.99 trillion approved for 2014; while N654.33 billion and N833.56 billion has been proposed for 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Also in the MTEF Recurrent Expenditure of N2,622.42 trillion has been earmarked for 2015, while N2,657.21 trillion has been proposed for 2016 and 2017 each.
In a letter to the NASS leadership yesterday, President Goodluck Jonathan requested the federal legislators to “grant the slot of 11a.m.”, to enable the finance minister to lay before them the 2015 Budget Estimates.
He noted that “uncertainty surrounding the global price of crude oil and its continuous fall has occasioned delays in both the submission of a final MTEF and Budget Estimates”.
The President also overruled possibilities of further revision of the current US$65 per barrel oil benchmark price, “though prices continue to be extremely volatile at present and to trend further downwards”.
He based his decision on the premise that “there are indications, based on the price intelligence we have at this time, that prices may range between US$65 – US$70 a barrel in 2015”. He however added that “should prices fall below the range, the country would have to make further adjustments”.
President Jonathan had on September 30 submitted the MTEF with a benchmark of US$78/barrel. Shortly after, oil prices began to fall precipitously, leading to its revision to US$73/barrel on November 18.
Also a decision of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), not to cut production further pushed the oil price down to US$70/barrel, resulting in another downward revision of the 2015 Budget benchmark to US$65/barrel, which was again submitted to the NASS on December 2.
In the fourth MTEF N4.357.96 trillion has been proposed for the 2015 fiscal year as against the N4,661.33 trillion in the revised MTEF and which is N366.73 billion less than the approved total budget for 2014, while N4,406.49 trillion and N4,58621 trillion have been projected for 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Anticipated oil production volume has also been reduced from 2.3883 million barrels per day (mbpd) projection for 2014 to 2.2782mbpd with increased progression of 2.3271mbpd and 2.4067mbpd for 2016 and 2017 fiscal years respectively.
Moreso, the new MTEF has proposed N165 average exchange rate per the US$ for 2015 – 2017 as against the 2014 approved N160 and initial proposals of N163.50 and N163 for 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Meanwhile the House of Representatives yesterday witnessed series of defections as Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal read out the announcement of the defectors at plenary.
Five lawmakers from Ogun State moved from the All Progressives Congress, APC to the Social Democratic Party, SDP. They are Babatunde Ogunola ( Ado-odo/Ota), Adekunle Adeyemi ( Ifo Ewekoro), Olumide Osoba (Abeokuta North/ Obafemi- Owode/Odeda), Abiodun Abudu-Balogun (Ogun Waterside/Ijebu North /East) and Taofik Buraimoh ( Remo Federal Constituency).
Four members also moved from the People’s Democratic Party, PDP to the All Progressives Congress, APC.
They are: Isau Mohammed ( Adamawa) Ibrahim El Sudi, (Taraba,) Jagaba Adams, (kaduna) Herman Hembe ( Benue).
The only female on the defection train, Aisha Ahmed Dahiru ( Adamawa) moved from the PDP to People’s Democratic Movement, PDM.