House of Representatives yesterday adopted and passed recommendations of its Committees on Appropriations, Aids, Loans and Debt Management, Legislative Budget and Research and National Planning and Economic Development, which considered the proposals contained in the 2018 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).
The House members similarly rounded off debate on the proposals of the 2018 budget. The debate entered its fourth day yesterday.
Consequently, Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara referred detailed considerations of the proposals to the Committee on Appropriation, all standing committees of the House and all subcommittees of the Committee on Appropriations.
According to the speaker, they are to engage the respective Ministries Departments and Agencies of government to determine the exact allocations that would be earmarked for expenditures next year.
At the consideration of the MTEF document by the Committee of Supply, members adopted most proposals therein, as forwarded to the National Assembly by the presidency.
They however jacked up per barrel oil benchmark for next year’s budget to $47, from the $45 proposed by the executive.
Presenting the report, House Chairman on Committee of Finance, Babangida Ibrahim said the increase followed “consideration of the current positive outlook in the global oil market and expectation that Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other allied oil partnership countries will sustain oil production “cuts deep ” into 2018.”
Members however retained the 2.3million per day oil barrels as proposed by the executive for next year’s budget.
Also retained are the projected N5.279 trillion for non oil revenue in the 2018 budget and N1.699 trillion new borrowing for 2018.
Ibrahim argued though that “the borrowing must be project- tied..”
The committee further recommended that a 3.5 per cent growth rate be adopted, especially with the latest figures indicating a doubling of growth rate to 1.4 per cent in third quarter of 2017.
It urged the National Assembly to amend relevant sections of the Fiscal Responsibility Act and other extant laws to strengthen budgeting and enthrone accountability.
Hon. Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers) however wondered why the proposed utilization of the recovered looted funds was not captured in the list of recommendations.
At the presentation of the 2018 budget estimates before the joint session of the National Assembly on November 7, President Muhammadu Buhari had promised to use part of the funds recovered from alleged corrupt officials to fund next year’s budget.
In his reaction to Apiafi ‘s concerns, the Dogara advised her to do a motion that will capture her thoughts on MTEF and use of the recovered funds in funding the 2018 budget.
The House Leader Femi Gbajabiamila said it was unnecessary at this point to bring up the issue and appealed to her and other members, also aggrieved, to support the endorsement of the framework.