Finance Minister Presents N4.3 Trillion Budget For 2015

The federal government yesterday presented the 2015 budget of N4.357.96 trillion to the National Assembly, stating that lower oil revenues have necessitated the re-projections of 5.5per cent growth in the economy as against an earlier estimate of 6.4 per cent.

The budget is based on an exchange rate of N165.00 to $1 and an oil benchmark of $65 per barrel.

Presenting the budget to the lawmakers, the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who represented President Goodluck Jonathan said it comprises N2.622 trillion for recurrent expenditure and N627 billion as capital expenditure, due to a downward review of the Medium Term Expenditure framework, MTEF, as a result of crashing oil prices.

Okonjo-Iweala, accompanied by the Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda and Director General of the  Budget Office, Bright Okogu, said the budget also consists of N102 billion for the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme SURE-P, N91 billion for kerosene subsidy and N3.602 trillion at the government’s revenue target in 2015.

According to her, the budget is powered by a projection of 2.278 million barrels of oil production per day.

Addressing journalists after her presentation, the minister said the budget would be predicated on a growth rate of 5.5 per cent and inflation rate of 7.9 per cent.

She stated that the budget focuses on diversifying the economy by raising non-oil revenue through various types of taxes and policies, adding that prices of food have not been affected by the crashing oil prices.

“The highlights are the benchmark price for oil of $65; production figure of 2.27 million barrel per day. We have estimated a GDP growth based on the circumstances of the country, which will be about 5.5 per cent,” she stated, adding that this ”is down from the 6.35 per cent we had earlier from the National Bureau of Statistics, which is still one of the best growth rates in the world.”

The minister explained that the 2015 budget focuses on moving the country to diversifying the economy and raising non-oil revenues.

“We have made up for the fall in the budget benchmark by $13 to $65 by raising non-oil revenue through various types of taxes and policies. The surcharge on luxury goods is there, plus additional tax efforts to close leakages in revenue,” she said.

Stressing that the government will effect changes in the cost of running its operations, Okonjo-Iweala said “although in the short term, no such stringent economic measure will be pursued, but eventually in the long term, we would be able to look at how we re-structure the cost of governance.”






     

     

    She, however, assured that the federal government would ensure that workers would receive their wages when due.

    “We want to make sure that people get their salaries and wages and pensions are paid. We don’t want to make any adjustments on the back of our pensioners and workers,” she said.

    The minister said the fiscal mechanisms put in place would check wastages thereby mitigating the effects of the uncertain climate brought about by the decline in oil revenue.

     

    Okonjo-Iweala explained that the government is committed to making up for the drop in oil prices from the $78 per barrel budget benchmark to $65 by investing and leveraging on non-oil revenues.

     

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