By Dipo Olowookere
The $50 oil benchmark set for the 2018 budget by the National Assembly (NASS) has been faulted by the Lead Partner at BudgIT Nigeria, Mr Oluseun Onigbinde.
The parliament, last Wednesday, passed the 2018 appropriation bill after six months it was presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.
In the budget estimate presented to a joint session of the National Assembly in November 2017 by President Buhari, the oil benchmark was pegged at $45 per barrel.
However, when the budget was passed last Wednesday, it was raised to $50 per barrel.
Last week, for the first time since November 2014, the price of the Brent crude oil hit $80 per barrel at the international market.
But speaking about the parliament’s action, Mr Onigbinde said the oil benchmark in the passed budget was not realistic.
According to him, instead of increasing the benchmark, National Assembly should have worked out ways to reduce the nation’s spending.
“Rather than raise the oil benchmark to $50, the government should have applied the funds to reducing the huge deficit that it will borrow to fund the budget,” he said in Abuja, the country’s capital.
He said more funds should be allocated for human development in the country, which Microsoft owner, Mr Bill Gates, advocated when he delivered a lecture recently in Nigeria.
Business Post reports that the N8.6 trillion 2018 budget presented to the parliament by Mr Buhari last year was increased to N9.1 trillion by the lawmakers when it was passed last week.
In the budget, N3.5 trillion was earmarked for recurrent expenditure, while N2.2 trillion was allotted for debt servicing and N2,869 trillion is earmarked for capital projects.
Also, N530.4 billion is for statutory transfers, while N190 billion will go to Sinking Fund for maturing loans.
However, oil production level was retained at 2.2 million barrels per day.
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