Lawmakers Approve N4trn for Petrol Subsidy, Budget Deficit Jumps
Ahmad Lawan, Senate President

Lawmakers Approve N4trn for Petrol Subsidy, Budget Deficit Jumps

Nigerian lawmakers, on Thursday, at plenary approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for adjustments to the 2022 fiscal framework. Accordingly, lawmakers agree to N4 trillion for subsidy payment and the budget deficit widened to N7.35 trillion.

The approval followed the consideration of a report by the Senate Committee on Finance. The report was laid and presented by the Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Olamilekan Adeola.

Senate accordingly approved the $73 dollars per barrel proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari, including approving an oil production volume of 1.600 million per day;

A Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) subsidy of four trillion Naira; and a cut in the provision for federally funded upstream projects being implemented by N200 billion from N352.80.

While approving an increase in the Federal Government Independent Revenue of N400 billion, Senate gave its approval for an additional provision of N182.4 billion to cater to the needs of the Nigeria Police Force.

It approved debt service provision of N76.13 billion and net reductions in Statutory Transfers by N66.07 billion.

A breakdown of the net reductions is as follows: NDDC, by N13.46 billion from N102.78 billion to N89.32 billion; NEDC, by N6.30 billion from N48.08 billion to N41.78 billion; and UBEC, by N23.16 billion from N112.29 billion to N89.13 billion.

Others are Basic Health Care Fund, by N11.58 billion from N56.14 billion to N44.56 billion; and NASENI, by N11.58 billion from N56.14 billion to N44.56 billion.

The chamber also approved a fiscal deficit of N7.35 trillion. In his presentation, Adeola said that the total budget deficit was projected to increase by N965.42 billion to N7.35 trillion, representing 3.99 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

According to him, the incremental deficit would be financed by new borrowings from the domestic market. Lawmakers, who made contributions to the report for the review of the 2022 fiscal framework, attributed Nigeria’s economic downturn to crude oil theft.

Sen. Olubunmi Adetunmbi (APC- Ekiti ), said the federal government and security agencies owed it a duty to stop the stealing of our commonwealth.

He decried that at a time when most countries of the world were reaping hugely from the increase in crude oil prices caused by the Russia-Ukrainian crisis, Nigeria was left out for its inability to meet its OPEC quota.

The Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, said the country should be in a state of mourning over its current experience, attributing the failure of security agencies to protect oil assets as a major reason for the decline of the economy.

He expressed concern over rising cases of oil theft despite huge resources allocated to the military, police and other security agencies.

Other Senators, like  Gabriel Suswam (PDP Benue ), and Betty Apiafi (PDP Rivers), urged the Senate not to hastily approve the President’s request to adjust the 2022 fiscal framework until certain questions were answered.

While Suswam raised concerns about the widening gap in the budget deficit and the federal government’s decision to resort to funding from the Capital Market, Apiafi, demanded answers from the NNPC and relevant agencies on solutions to curb crude oil theft.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in his concluding remarks, called on the Federal Government to take “radical” steps toward stopping the theft of crude oil by economic saboteurs.

He also called for a stop to the importation of refined petroleum products into the country, so as to cut down on expenditures incurred in the process, as well as to maximize profits from crude oil sales. 

“This (crude theft) is not something to play politics with, and I don’t think the answers are going to be easy to come by.

“Radical decisions would have to be taken, but before we find answers we have to live with this, though we have to be as fast as possible in looking for answers.

“I had a session with the Chief of Defence Staff about a month ago, and my discussions with him were on the oil theft and the efforts of our security agencies to combat this menace.

“And like we know, our security agencies are doing their best, but we have people – our people – who are sabotaging the oil industry because oil theft is not perpetrated by somebody else but by people who are citizens.

“So, we need to continue to support the security agencies in whatever way possible so that they are able to deal with this.

“I also believe that, whether there is oil theft or not, until we stop the importation of refined products to Nigeria, we will never get the best out of the oil and gas industry.

“We should, therefore, work to ensure that we produce our refined products locally because that is one way of cutting our expenditure on importation.

“I also think that diversification of the economy is key because we depend so much on this oil and gas industry, the slightest issues that affect it internationally affect us seriously in our country”, Lawan said. #Lawmakers Approve N4trn for Petrol Subsidy, Budget Deficit Jumps