BY AHURAKA ISAH, ABUJA
President Muhammadu Buhari will today lay the 2018 budget estimates to a Joint session of the National Assembly by 2:00pm.
The president had last week notified the legislature in a letter addressed to the two chambers of the National Assembly requesting for a slot to address a joint session of the National Assembly and lay his third budget proposal on November 7.
Buhari had presented the 2016 Budget Proposal on December 22, 2015 and that of 2017 on December 14, 2016.
The president’s letter titled, ‘Laying of the 2018 Budget Proposal Before the National Assembly’, was read by Senate President Bukola Saraki during plenary last Thursday.
The letter reads in part: “Pursuant to Section 81 of the 1999 Constitution, may I crave the indulgence of the National Assembly to grant me the slot of 1400 hours onTuesday, 7th November, 2017 to formally address the joint session of and lay before the National Assembly the 2018 budget proposal.”
Preparatory to the presentation of the 2018 budget to the National Assembly, President Buhari had on Tuesday, October 18 transmitted the 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF and Fiscal Strategy Paper, FSP to the legislature.
In a letter addressed to the Senate president, Buhari also noted that pursuant to the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the preparation for the eventual submission of the 2018 budget to the National Assembly was “progressing well.”
Under the MTEF, the Executive is proposing an oil benchmark of $45 per barrel for the 2018 budget, a production target of 2.3 million barrels per day and an exchange rate of $305 to the dollar.
The presentation of the MTEF came on the heels of the appeal made by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the National Assembly to consider the plight of Nigeria’s unborn children and reject the president’s request for approval of $5.5 billion external loans.
Again, the MTEF and FSP were designed against the backdrop of an adverse global economic environment.
Buhari, in the covering letter for the MTEF, said the document had been prepared against the backdrop of generally adverse global economic uncertainty as well as fiscal challenges and recovery in the domestic economy to ensure that planned spending is set at prudent and sustainable levels and consistent with government’s overall developmental objectives and inclusive growth.
The president further sought the consideration and expeditious approval of the MTEF and FSP “to bring the 2018 FGN Budget preparation process to a timely closure”.
The House of Representatives had on December 13, 2016 adopted the 2017 to 2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), just as it fixed the exchange rate of Naira to a dollar at N350 as against the N290 recommended by the executive.
Meanwhile, the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, met briefly with the Senate leadership yesterday for reasons not completely unconnected to the budget presentation.
For over 45 minutes, the SGF met behind closed doors with Saraki and other Principal Officers during which he was reassured that the Senate was not leaving any stone unturned to have a hitch-free budget presentation.