—Calls for an increase of oil benchmark to $65
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
AHEAD of the presentation of the 2020 Appropriation Bill to the joint session of the National Assembly tomorrow, Senator Gershon Bassey has said that the nation’s economic growth which was less than three per cent was poor.
President Muhammadu Buhari
Consequently, Senator Bassey has called for the increase of the oil benchmark from $55 per barrel to $65 per barrel so as to have more money to inject into the economy.
Senator Bassey, who represents Cross River South Senatorial District and a member of the Senate Committee on Finance argued that injecting money into the economy would help in the provision of infrastructure, security as well as other critical sectors.
His suggestion is coming on the heels of the Extraordinary Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting to be presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari today at the Presidential Villa on the 2020 Budget.
According to him, “We have seen an economic growth that is less than three per cent. For a developing country, 2020 Budget of three per cent economic growth is poor, it is not good enough. This is not a figure that we will be looking at as a developing country.
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“China has a growth rate of five and six per cent, India has a growth rate of nine to ten per cent. So for a developing country that wants to get to where we want to get to, a two to three per cent economic growth rate is very poor.
“So, what does this mean? It means that we need to invest more in the economy, it means that there has to be more capital inflow into the economy, it means that the amount we are spending on infrastructure, security and other vital critical areas must be increased.
“But where is the money? The money is there. If you raise the oil benchmark from $55 per barrel to $65 per barrel bearing in mind that the average price of crude oil has gone to $70 per barrel.
“We easily realize enough money to begin to invest in some of these critical areas. So, my proposal is that the Finance Committee considers raising the benchmark for crude oil for the purposes of this budget from $55 per barrel to $65 per barrel. 2020 Budget
“You will have enough money to begin to invest in inf3, security and other critical areas.”