The House of Representatives, on Wednesday, approved the sum of N1.64 trillion as a benchmark for borrowing to fund the 2019 budget deficit by the federal government.
The amount is N202 billion short of the N1.86 trillion the executive had proposed in the 2019-2021 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), submitted to the national assembly previous year.
But having considered the growing debt burden on the country, the Committees on Finance, Appropriations, Aids, Loans and Debt Management, Legislative Budget and Research and National Planning and Economic Development which sat on the MTEF and FSP documents recommend the reduced amount.
Considering the report in the Committee of the Whole, the House adopted the 5 different recommendations as submitted by the chairman of the House Committee on Finance, Hon. Babangida Ibrahim (APC, Katsina).
Given synopsis of the report, Ibrahim urged the House to adopt the recommendations of the joint Committees to pave way for consideration and passage of the 2019 Budget.
The recommendations included (1) the adoption of 2.3 million barrels of crude oil production as daily production target.
That the government adopts USD 60 as a benchmark for crude oil in the 2109 fiscal year; adopts N305 to USD1 as the official exchange rate for the fiscal year 2019; adopt the recommendation of N1.64 trillion as new borrowing to fund Budget deficit and advice relevant agencies to continue exploring ways of generating additional revenues for government to bring down the fiscal deficit.
In addition, it approved, the sum of N500, 000,000,000 only special intervention fund is adopted to enjoin the cooperation of relevant committees and other relevant ministries, departments and agencies MDAs in ensuring that the funds are judiciously utilized to provide a positive tangible impact of the funds on the Nigerian people.
Other sub recommendations of the committees also adopted were that the federal government should consider reducing the granting of waivers and exemptions while ensuring that the Nigerian Customs Service personnel are stationed at all oil terminals for accountability, and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) should consider increasing tax on luxury goods and services.
The House also adopted the recommendation that 20% operating surplus to be remitted by government-owned enterprises should be deducted at source.