President Mohammadu Buhari will next week present the 2017 budget before the National Assembly.
This was disclosed yesterday by the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio (PDP Akwa Ibom North West), while making contributions to debate on projected assumptions made by the executive in the 2017-2019 MTEF, declared as unrealistic by many of the Senators.
Akpabio in letting the cat out of the bag as regards 2017 Budget presentation by the President said: “Yesterday, you made reference to the fact that the President may be coming to the chambers to submit and read the 2017 budget on 1st of December (Next week Thursday).
“If that is the case and we send this (MTEF) back for reworking by the presidency, it means that we will not be able to meet that deadline. But if we send it to the committee level, they may come up with something within the next three days that will be much, much realistic ahead of the budget presentation itself”.
Akpabio had before making the disclosure, pleaded with the Senate not to throw out the MTEF document based on its unrealistic projections pointed out by majority of the senators but commit it to relevant committees of the Senate.
“We can see that we don’t have a perfect document in our hands but of course we are looking at assumptions and assumptions may not necessarily be correct. I want to suggest that we send it to the committee.
“Of course, the committees will invite the relevant agencies and ministries of government. And they will come up with a more realistic MTEF/FSP. So, my appeal will be that the committee members should take into cognisance all the submissions and observations made today; so that we can come up with a more realistic MTEF and FSP”.
During the general debate on the MTEF document, Senators like Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West), Bayero Nafada (APC Gombe North), Adeola Olamilekan (APC Lagos West), Mohammed Hassan (PDP Yobe South), Emmanuel Paulker (PDP Bayelsa Central) , Abiodun Olujimi (PDP Ekiti South) etc, hit hard against assumptions made in the document and argued for it to be sent back to the Presidency.
Some of the assumptions in the MTEF document kicked against by the senators are the 2.2million barrel per day oil production as against 1.6million barrel per day production that it is, presently, exchange rate of N290 to a U.S dollar as against N305 to a dollar officially announced by the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele , two days ago.
Others are, 3.02% GDP growth rate for 2017 as against -2.44% growth rate it is now, from – 2.06% it was during the second quarter as a result of recession.
While Melaye on account of the alleged unrealistic assumptions of the MTEF document described it as a fraud, Adeola Olamilekan declared that the economic team of President Buhari was in disarray.
In his remarks, Senate President, Bukola Saraki also agreed with other senators that the document was full of unrealistic assumptions but implored the Senators to allow the proposal to go to committee level for proper scrutiny.
According to him, There is no doubt about the fact that these projections are not realistic. The Central Bank of Nigeria has said it is using N305 (to a dollar). There is no doubt as well that throughout this year, we did not achieve 2.2 million barrels per day; even in time of peace (in the oil
rich Niger Delta), we have not achieved 2.5mbpd. How realistic is 2.2mbpd next year? The oil price as well looks conservative.
He asked the Committees on Finance and Appropriation to take note of all said by the senators on the MTEF and FSP during the plenary while preparing their report on the MTEF and FSP.