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FEC okays N8.7 trillion 2019 budget estimate

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh and Terhemba Daka (Abuja)
25 October 2018   |   4:29 am
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday approved the 2019-2021 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).

President Muhammadu Buhari

• Approves N63b for Lagos-Badagry-Seme road project
• Senate probes 2018 budget implementation, $2.7b Eurobond

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday approved the 2019-2021 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).

The document shows a budget estimate of N8.73 trillion for the 2019 fiscal year. The projection, according to Minister of Budget and National Planning Udoma Udoma would be transmitted to the National Assembly for legislative approval.

Udoma explained that the MTEF/FSP is specifically designed to translate the strategic development objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) into an implementable budget framework for the medium term.

Key highlights include oil price benchmark of $60, oil production of 2.3 million barrels per day, exchange rate of N305 to 1USD, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 3.01 per cent and a budget size of N8.73 trillion, about N400 billion less than the N9.2 trillion of 2018.

The Minister of Finance Zainab Ahmed disclosed that the FEC session, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, also granted approval for a loan of $1.5 million from the African Development Fund to finance the multinational Lagos to Abidjan corridor highway development project.

The corridor, she explained, would be a six-lane, dual-carriage highway spanning five countries: Nigeria, Benin Republic, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo.

Ahmed said the decision was taken at the 42nd meeting of the Authorities of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS in 2013. ìThe African Development Bank in 2016, as a follow-up, approved the total sum of $13.5 million for the entire project,î she said.

She disclosed that the fund had been distributed among the participating countries and that the component for Nigeria was $1.5 million. The FEC has approved that we accept this facility, so that the project study can be commissioned towards the planning of the execution of the highway project itself,î Ahmed added.

Also briefing State House correspondents, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, disclosed that his ministry presented a memorandum for the award of contract for the rehabilitation of the Lagos-Badagry-Seme road. According to Fashola, the 46-kilometre project excludes the part connecting Eric Moore to the Okokomaiko section in Lagos.

FEC approved the project at the cost of N63.023 billion. Council approved 46 kilometers from Agbara to Seme border, of which 24 kilometers will be six lanes, while 22 kilometers will retain the current four lanes to be reconstructed and rehabilitated,î he said.

The council also approved the African trans-Sahara highway project from Algiers to Lagos. The Nigerian section is the Lagos to Katsina border side, traversing Ibadan, Oyo, Ogbomosho, Ilorin, Katsina, Abuja and Kano.

Amid new fiscal proposals by the executive, the Senate, yesterday, directed its standing committees to investigate how the N9.120 trillion 2018 budget is being implemented. The committees were equally charged to conduct checks on the implementation of the $2.78 billion Eurobond by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

It also announced it had suspended plenary for two weeks, to allow the committees to conclude the assignments, and would resume on November 6, 2018.

When the budget was passed in May, Senate President Bukola Saraki had stressed the need for its immediate implementation so that our people will begin to benefit from the objective of the budget and the opportunities it offers.î House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara had also urged the executive arm of government to ensure an expeditious implementation of the budget.

It is only plenary session that is being suspended, We expect our committees to carry out oversight in this period,î the Senate president explained yesterday.

He added: When we debated the Eurobond, there were a lot of questions on implementation and utilisation of those loans. But it was because of the expediency and the demand from the executive that we approved those loans. We did it on the understanding that our committees will quickly go and do oversight in MDAs to see that those funds have been properly utilised. I will charge all our committees that during this period they should carry out the necessary oversight, so that we can report when we do resume back to plenary.

The senators also condemned the killings in Kaduna State, alleging that the heinous acts were caused by governments negligence and conspiracy by elite.

Adopting a motion sponsored by Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi (PDP, Kaduna North), the lawmakers noted that the attacks were religious and ethnic. They regretted that gruesome and mindless killings were being carried out in communities across the country, while relevant security agencies and the executive arm of government allegedly refuse to evolve proactive measures to stop them.

Saraki led the senators to observe a minute silence in honour of the victims of the Kaduna killings.