By Akpandem James, Special Adviser to the Minister of Budget and National Planning
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, on Tuesday in Abuja, emphasised that the Federal Government is determined to improve its revenue generation this year and has already taken a number of steps in that direction.
While briefing the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Finance, Appropriation, Planning and Economic Development on the 2019 revenue and expenditure projections as contained in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) 2019-2021), the Minister stated that one of the reasons it could not realize its revenue target for 2018 was that some one-off items listed for implementation in the fiscal year were not actualized.
But he said those items which include the N710 billion from Oil Joint Venture Asset Restructuring and N320 billion from revision of the Oil Production Sharing Contract Legislation/terms have been rolled over to 2019.
Among other initiatives aimed at expanding the fiscal space, the Minister indicated that the Federal Government will intensify efforts to improve public financial management through the comprehensive implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
Also the Department of Petroleum Resources has been directed to, within three months, complete the collection of past-due oil license and royalty charges, including those due from Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) (a subsidiary of NNPC), which it had agreed to pay since 2017.
THE Minister said the Ministry of Finance, working with all the relevant authorities, has been authorized to take action to liquidate all recovered, unencumbered assets within six months.
Amongst other revenue generating initiatives, he said the President has directed that work should be immediately concluded on the deployment of the National Trade Window and other technologies to enhance customs collections efficiency from the current 64 percent to up to 90 percent over the next few years.
He indicated that in spite of the challenges that militated against the realisation of targeted revenues, the revenues generated in 2018 showed a significant improvement over 2017. He said that he expects further improvement this year with the sustained implementation of the prescriptions of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
The Minister explained that the ERGP guides allocations in the Federal Government budget because it sets out the key execution priorities of government for the growth and development of the economy. Government, he added, is encouraged by the results so far attained after implementing the Plan for about two years.
He said the economy has exited from recession and is on the path of growth, even though it takes time for the impact to be fully felt by a significant number of people. “It takes time, and will take some more efforts but we will keep working on it so as to fully realize the objectives of the ERGP. The implementation of the ERGP will create growth and jobs and reduce poverty,”, he assured.
Explaining the basis for some of the assumptions in the MTEF/FSP, the Minister said the oil price benchmark was arrived at after extensive consultations with industry experts and consultants; and he indicated that he believes that the $60 per barrel projected for 2019 is achieveable. He noted that oil was currently trading at about US$67.
On the limitation imposed by OPEC production quota, the Minister also explained that there is no quota set for condensates by OPEC. Nigeria, he said, could use condensate production to augment its production. “Mr. President has directed the NNPC to take all possible measures to achieve the targeted oil production of 2.3 million barrels per day”, he added.
The Minister told the Committee that the 2019 Budget proposals, which are based on the MTEF/FSP seek to continue the reflationary and consolidation policies of the 2017 and 2018 Budgets respectively, which helped restore the economy back on to the path of growth.
He explained that in allocating funds in the 2019 budget proposals, priority was given to critical infrastructure projects.
Others who made presentations before the Committee include the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed; Chairman FIRS, Mr Tunde Fowler; Accountant General of the Federation, Ibrahim Idris; Director General of the Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha, Comptroller General of Customs Col. Ali; representatives of the Central Bank Governor and the Group Managing Director of NNPC. The Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Mr Ben Akabueze, was also at the meeting.