…as Buhari presents Appropriation Bill today
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru – Abuja
The Federal Executive Council, FEC, has accepted the increase in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF by the National Assembly from N10. O02 trillion to N10. 729 trillion.
FEC at the Extraordinary meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber Presidential Villa, Abuja, commended the National Assembly for the increment of the crude oil benchmark from $55 per barrel to $57 per barrel.
There were insinuations that the executive may reject the jerking up of the proposed budget size in the MTEF with over N700 billion.
Although there was no normal briefing at the end of the meeting which lasted about five hours, Vanguard reliably gathered that members of the cabinet commended the legislators for increasing the benchmark.
The source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, “FEC is happy with the National Assembly for increasing the benchmark to $57 per barrel. The additional $2 is to take care of recruitment in the security agencies and also attend to critical areas.
“This is a sign that the legislature and the executive will work together for the interest of Nigerians. It is a good development.”
The extraordinary FEC meeting Vanguard gathered deliberated on the 2020 Appropriation Bill expected to be laid before the joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday.
Departmental heads of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning led by the Director-General of Budget, Ben Akabueze made submissions at the meeting.
The meeting started with the rendition of the national anthem and Christian prayer led by the Minister of Health while the Muslim prayer was led by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.
It will be recalled that the extraordinary FEC meeting originally scheduled to hold on Saturday last week was shifted to today, Monday.
According to the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, the meeting is to put finishing touches to the year 2020 budget.
Also, recall that Senator Gershon Bassey has called for the increase of the oil benchmark from $55 per barrel to $65 per barrel so as to have some funds to be injected into the economy.
He had said that the nation’s economic growth which was less than three percent was poor.
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.
According to him, “We have seen an economic growth that is less than three percent. For a developing country, three percent economic growth is poor, it is not good enough. This is not a figure that we will be looking at as a developing country.
“China has a growth rate of five and six percent, India has a growth rate of nine to ten percent. So for a developing country that wants to get to where we want to get to, a two to three percent 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.
“You will have enough money to begin to invest in inf3, security and other critical areas.”