•Raises committee to raise more oil revenues
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Bazil Obasi, Abuja
The Federal Government has recovered N288.6 billion loot, it was disclosed yesterday. It will be used to fund the 2017 budget
This is even as it has raised a committee to come up with creative ways of raising additional revenue from the oil sector as it remains the major source of funding the 2017 “Budget of Recovery and Growth.”
The committee report would be presented to the National Assembly as lawmakers consider the budget upon resumption in the New Year.
These and more were disclosed in the breakdown of the 2017 budget by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma.
The Director-General of Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, while answering questions on the loot, said “a total of N288.6 million has been recovered. This include N97.6 billion which is equivalent of $220 million expected from Swittzerland, part of what is called Abacha loot recovery. Then, it also includes N72 billion that has already been received in recent cases of loot recovery. A balance of N90 billion from other expected recoveries that are at an advanced and reasonable stage that we feel comfortable and confident that they would come through in 2017 and so, they have been reflected in the budget.”
On seeking creative ways of raising additional oil revenue, Udoma said though the government cannot determine the price of crude oil in the coming year, it is determined to engage with the communities and people in Niger Delta to minimise disruptions to oil production.
“We can introduce creative measures to improve on the efficiencies in that sector so as to increase government take. Indeed, a cabinet committee has been set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to come up with innovative and creative ways to raise additional revenues from the oil sector, and other sectors to support the funding of the 2017 budget.
“The report of this committee will be ready in time for the National Assembly to take this into account in considering the budget in the New Year, when they return from their Christmas recess,” Udoma said.
The constitution of the committee is targeted at garnering funds from the oil sector to fund the N7.29trillion budget. The 2017 spending plan which was submitted to the National Assembly last week by the President is predicated on US $42.5 per barrel with a target of 2.2million barrels per day.
Key assumptions as presented in the fiscal plan submitted by Buhari shows an expected revenue of N4.94 trillion with expected revenue from oil put at N1.985 trillion and N1.373 trillion from the non-oil sector. Contribution of oil revenue is put at 40.2 per cent compared to the 19 per cent in the 2016 spending plan, driven by the Joint Venture Cash cost reduction, higher price, exchange rate and additional oil related revenues.
“We must and we can, find the resources, “Udoma said, urging Nigerians to shun insinuations that Nigeria could not find the resources to fund its own budget.
To raise more funds, government will challenge revenue generating agencies, particularly the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Customs to improve their efficiencies and broaden their reach to achieve the targets set for them in the 2017 budget.
“We will be issuing new guidelines and templates for computing the operation surpluses of the various government agencies so that we can achieve the targets we have set for independent revenues,” Udoma added.
Nigeria slid into economic recession in the first quarter of 2016 II worsened in the third quarter following negative growth of 2.24 percent, according to statistics by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The government’s revenues noose-dived in 2015 and 2016 following the drop in oil production instigated by militancy in Niger Delta as well as the drop in global oil prices.
The Federal Government had in October launched an oil sector roadmap targeting a zero militancy rate by middle of 2017 to raise oil production to meet the country’s benchmark.
The government also announced plans to issue new oil licences as part of efforts to explore new streams of revenues to fund the budget.