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Lawan, Gbajabiamila meet ministers, others over 2020 budget review

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Ahmad Lawan


•FG slashes revenue projection for customs

The National Assembly leadership yesterday met with some ministers and heads of agencies over the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the Nigerian economy.The meeting concentrated on the planned review of the 2020 budget and the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper passed late last year by both the upper and lower legislative chambers.

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, who presided over the gathering, stressed the importance of the review against the backdrop of the adverse effect of the epidemic on the global economy.

The get-together, which lasted almost four hours, according to him, was summoned to “discuss the proposed review of the 2020 budget and the Medium Term Expenditure Framework.”

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“If we have to review the budget itself, we have to consider the MTEF/FSP. Even in sickness, we need government to provide services. The impact of COVID-19 is well known to all of us in terms of health and the economy,” he added

Lawan further stated that the summit was about “revenues that we estimated to fund the budget 2020,” adding: “Because the oil price has gone so low due to the impact of COVID-19, the Minister of State (for Petroleum Resources) should be able to tell us where we will be in the next six months or so.”

He continued: “We should have concepts that can deliver fast and are sustainable.”

“In his remarks, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said the meeting was timely, noting: “We live in a very unusual time and it’s time we start thinking outside the box to see how we can stabilise our economy and the direction it’s going to take.”

Also contributing, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, explained that “prior to COVID-19 and oil price decline, the Nigerian economy was already fragile and vulnerable.”

According to her, due to the a global economic downturn precipitated by the impact of the Coronavirus challenge, oil prices plunged as low as $22 per barrel at the international market.

She, therefore, proposed a review of the 2020 budget using a $30 per barrel benchmark to insulate the economy against any unexpected crisis.

The minister added that the budgeted revenues for the Nigeria Customs Service had been slashed from N1.5 trillion to N943 billion “due to anticipated reduction in trade volumes, and privatisation proceeds to be cut by 50 per cent based on the adverse economic outlook on sales of the independent power projects (IPPs) and other assets.”

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