National Assembly has said it would drastically adjust the benchmark of $38 proposed for oil price by President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2016 budget despite continued fall in the product’s price at the international market.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, insisted in an interview with newsmen in Abuja that the $38 oil price bench mark proposal would be drastically reduced by the National Assembly, particularly Senate, before passage.
“We are going to be as realistic as possible by reviewing it in line with realities on ground as regards its proposed parameters like the oil price benchmark which, today, is far lower than the projected figure of $38 per barrel in the international market.
“So what I want to assure you is that when we resume from recess, the budget will be a top priority and we are going to give it expeditious attention,” he said.
He further explained, “the issue of oil benchmark and exchange rate are issues that are dynamic and I’m sure by the time we come to deal with that, we will look at what the realities are and in tandem with the executive, I am sure we will come up with what we believe is realistic.
“The price of oil in the international market as at yesterday was slightly below $33 per barrel, making a deficit difference of $5 per barrel when compared with the $38 per barrel proposed in the 2016 budget estimates.
Senator Abdullahi added that in considering the budget, the National Assembly would pay attention to the critical issue of revenue diversification.
“What I want you to do is if you look at the budget, you see that we are giving more emphasis on non oil revenue and by the time we block the leakages and ensure value for money, we should be able to do those things that will add value to the economy.
“Remember the IMF boss was advising the financial sector to look at borrowing for the real sectors, agriculture, SMEs and all the likes, these are the areas of growth and I want to assure that if we get it right in these particular sectors, I think our economy will be able to stay afloat”, he added.
The Senate spokesperson commended the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, for what he described as effective management of foreign exchange.
“If you look at the Forex market, today it will gain, tomorrow it will drop. So, these are dynamics that we are not sure how it will play out, but with the management of the Forex, I want to believe that the CBN is doing a very great job.
“We should encourage them and give them the necessary support so that at the end of the day, we will continue to do those things that are in the interest of Nigerians,” he explained.