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Senate, Reps agree on $53 benchmark for 2015 budget


mark-and-tambuwal• Govt may reduce financial exclusion rate

BOTH chambers of the National Assembly have resolved to adopt $53 per barrel as official oil benchmark for the 2015 budget, according to sources Wednesday.

The Senate conference committee is headed by Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, while that of the House of Representatives is headed by Abdulmumin Jibrin.

With this development, The Guardian learnt that both chambers would pass the budget tomorrow (Thursday) before proceeding on break for the forthcoming elections.

Specifically, the Senate had approved $52, while the House approved $54 per barrel, a development which resulted in the formation of a conference committee of the two chambers to harmonise their positions.

The Guardian learnt late Wednesday that members of the panel met earlier and agreed on a mid-point of $53 per barrel as official oil benchmark.

A source also informed newsmen that the conference committee also were in agreement on N190 to $1 exchange rate in the 2015 budget.

“It was agreed the National Assembly initial budget of N150 billion be cut by N30 billion. With this development, the federal legislature’s budget for the year is now N120 billion,” the source added Wednesday.

In the same vain, it was gathered that the two chambers have agreed to scrap the Service Wide Votes (SWV) as well as cut the price of oil production by N200 billion, a move aimed at cutting cost.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government may reduce financial exclusion rate in the country to at least 20 per cent by 2020, the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said yesterday, as Nigeria joins the rest of the world to celebrate the Global Money Week.

Speaking at the Child and Youth Financial Literacy Summit in Abuja, Emefiele noted that “Nigeria is steadfast in fulfilling its commitment to achieving the target of reducing financial exclusion rates in Nigeria from 46.3 percent in 2011 to 20 per cent by the year 2020.”

According to him, the national financial inclusion strategy was launched by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2012, but a critical component of that strategy was expected to promote financial literacy and capability. This, Emefiele explained “was premised on the understanding that it is by empowering Nigerians with the requisite financial knowledge and skills that they would have the confidence to participate in the formal financial system and thus effectively contribute to the stability of our financial system while improving their economic well-being.”

The CBN governor added that “in the implementation of the financial inclusion strategy, a financial literacy framework which articulates a strategic direction for a multi-stakeholder approach to the delivery of financial education programmes across various target groups of the Nigerian population was developed.”

The framework, according to him, “has the primary objective of increasing the level of awareness and understanding of financial products and services, enhancing the efficient usage of financial resources and empowering Nigerians with the knowledge and skills to make informed choices and take effective actions that would enhance their financial well-being.”

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