The Senate during plenary
The Nigerian Senate has again suspended consideration and debate of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).
The lawmakers hinged their decision on possible changes in the price of oil, ahead of the OPEC meeting at which producers are expected to extend a supply-cut deal that came into effect in January with the goal of tightening supplies and propping up prices.
The National Assembly, in line with its tradition, has to approve the MTEF-FSP document first before the passage of the 2018 budget proposal.
Following a motion moved by Senate leader Ahmed Lawan and supported unanimously by the Senate, the upper Chamber decided to wait for the outcome of the OPEC meeting before considering and passing the MTEF.
Meanwhile, debate on the 2018 budget continued on the floor of the Senate with majority of lawmakers who spoke, faulting the assumptions and projections inherent in the proposed fiscal document.
Senator Ibrahim Danbaba (APC Sokoto South) said that the capital component of the Budget is inadequate. He suggested that the Benchmark of oil price be raised to $50 Dollars, and also faulted the implementation process of previous budgets.
Senator Adeola Solomon (APC Lagos West) faulted the consistent disregard for due process in the budgeting process.
He decried the non-submission of the budget performance indices for 2017, saying that the document ought to serve as a guide to lawmakers while considering the 2018 budget.
Also in his contribution, Senator Jubril Barau (APC Kano North) said that he was not convinced that the budget as presented by the government is implementable.
Senator Emmanuel Paulker (PDP Bayelsa Central), who also faulted the assumptions of the budget, said the country would need divine intervention to make the budget implementable.
However, the Senate, having concluded debate, put on hold the voting on the second reading of the budget pending the consideration and passage of the MTEF by next week.
Any delay in approving the MTEF and FSP will inevitably lead to a delay in consideration and approval of the 2018 budget.