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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Senate Passes 2022-2024 MTEF, Fiscal Strategy Paper

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The Nigerian Senate has passed the 2022-2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) ahead of the expected presentation of the 2022 Appropriations bill to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.

This is just as the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, backed the continuous collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) by the Federal Government until the final judgement of the nation’s apex court, the Supreme Court.

The passage of the 2022-2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework was sequel to the consideration and deliberation of a report by the Joint Committees on Finance; Local and Foreign Debts; Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions; Petroleum Resources (Upstream); Downstream Petroleum Sector and Gas.

The Joint Committee report was presented by the Chairman of the Senare Finance Committee, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola.

Senators took turns to debate the MTEF/FSP document which was submitted to the legislative arm for approval last month by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Contributing to the debate, former Governor of Benue state and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, Senator Gabriel Suswam, lamented that government’s borrowing had been increasing yearly, wondering when it is going to stop.

According to him, the country’s budget deficit has gone beyond “the threshold of the Fiscal responsibility Act,” as he frowned at irrelevant waivers granted businesses even as the country was operating a deficit budget.

While urging the Senate to invite the Central Bank Governor to educate it on the country’s monetary policy, the ranking Senator who regretted that the “CBN has failed woefully in handling monetary policy,” disclosed that the country was dishing out N2.4 trillion as waivers when it was having over N5.6 trillion deficit.

He said: “The issue of borrowing and deficit. We now have a deficit that has been growing year in, year out. When is it going to stop.

These are issues that agitate the minds of Nigerians especially when it concerns borrowing.

“We have a deficit that has gone beyond the threshold of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) 2007 which then means that is either we amend the FRA so as to accommodate this deficit.

“The FRA stipulates a threshold of three per cent. Last year it was above the threshold, this year, it is above by six per cent.

“In managing an economy, we need to combine fiscal policies with monetary policies. The Central Bank has failed woefully under monetary policy.”

On his part, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi, posited that “there was nothing wrong with borrowing provided it is channeled towards improving infrastructure such as road, health facilities, as well as empowering Nigerians.”

The Red chamber thereafter okayed the Federal Government’s revenue projection of N8.36 trillion; and proposed expenditure of N13.98 trillion.

It also approved the daily crude oil production of 1.88mbpd, 2.23mbpd, and 2.22mbpd for 2022, 2023 and 2024, particularly “in view of average 1.93mbpd over the last 3 years and the fact that a very conservative oil output benchmark has been adopted for the medium term in order to ensure greater budget realism”.

The Senate in its recommendations approved the Benchmark oil price of USD$57 per barrel; adopted the Exchange Rate of N410.15/US$ by the Executive for 2022-2024; and gave its nod to the projected Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 4.20%; as well as 13% inflation rate.

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