The House of Representatives Tuesday picked holes in the 2013-2015 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper, declaring that the document did not state in specific terms, the parameters behind its projections.
This is just as the Joint House Committee on Finance, Legislative Budget and Research, National Planning and Economic Development as well as Loans, Aids and Debt, which is saddled with the responsibility of scrutinising the document, has recommended an increase in the crude oil benchmark for the 2013 budget from $75 to $82 per barrel.
It has also slashed the budget deficit for next year from N1.3 trillion to N791.26 billion and is proposing that internal borrowing be reduced from N727.19 billion to N381.25 billion, representing a 52 per cent cut.
The hike of the oil benchmark is expected to increase the federally collectible revenue in 2013 from N7.3 trillion to N7.9 trillion, and will also increase the Federal Government's share of revenue from N3.561 trillion to N4.137 trillion.
In a report presented to the House Tuesday, the committee observed that the gloomy picture painted by government on the volatility in the global oil market and fears that crude oil prices may crash within the period under review was not realistic.
The report addresses modifications to the MTEF and Fiscal Strategy Paper based on the contributions of members of the House at their meeting held on Thursday, September 27. It is also premised on submissions by revenue generating and accounting agencies of government.
The committee's report observed that apart from increasing the oil benchmark, the revenue target of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) should be increased from N914.366 billion to a little over N1 trillion so as to raise the expected revenue from non-oil sources.
The committee, however, said that the target for the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Federal Government Independent Revenue (FGNIR) could be retained as proposed in the document submitted by the executive arm of government.
The expected increase in Federal Government's revenue, the report said, should translate to an increased capital budget and a leeway for government to address the huge infrastructure deficit facing the country.
"Increased revenue generation should lead to decreased budget deficit and increased capital budget for critical infrastructure development. Decreased internal borrowing will increase private sector contribution to production, employment generation and wealth creation," the report said.
The committee observed that there was need to plug all leakages relating to oil production such as pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft as well as the acquisition of metering devices at the oil production points and export terminals to check abuses.
President Goodluck Jonathan presented the 2013-2015 MTEF to the National Assembly on September 18 in line with the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.
The House deliberated on the MTEF on September 27 and assigned the document to the joint committee for further scrutiny.
The report of the joint committee gets the input of the National Assembly Budget and Research Office (NABRO), which collates the opinions of stakeholders such as the Federal Ministry of Finance, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF), Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and the FIRS.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly has pledged to allocate more funds to the Police Service Commission (PSC) in the 2013 budget to complete its ongoing projects, particularly the commission's headquarters in Jabi, Abuja.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Paulinus Nwagu, who stated this in Abuja during an oversight visit to the project site yesterday, expressed satisfaction with the pace and quality of work.
The five-storey building, which construction began in December 2011, has attained 60 per cent completion and scheduled for completion in February 2013.
Nwagu, who was at the site with other committee members and the PSC Chairman, Mr. Parry Osayande, said the National Assembly would allocate more funds to enable the commission to fulfil its obligations to the contractor handling the project.
As the joint committee of the House concluded its report on the MTEF, the Senate yesterday received a request from Jonathan, asking it to consider harmonising the document for approval, in accordance with Sections 13, 12 and 11 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.
Senator Victor Ndoma Egba, who moved the motion on the floor of the Senate, advised that the Committees on Finance and National Planning be mandated to investigate the request within two weeks while further deliberation on the motion was therefore suspended.
The Senate unanimously resolved that the committees should go through the MTEF and make recommendations to the chamber in two weeks time.