The Senate President, Ibrahim Lawan has said that if the government has to review the 2020 budget itself, its has to consider the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper passed late last year, added that even in sickness, Nigerians need government to provide services.
He made this known at the meeting with some Ministers and Heads of agencies from the Executive arm of Government in Abuja on Wednesday to brainstorm on the impact of Coronavirus pandemic on the Nigerian economy.
The President of the Senate presided over the meeting, in his opening remarks, he said an immediate review of the 2020 budget and Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) is imperative, particularly against the backdrop of the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on global economy.
“The impact of COVID-19 is well known to all of us in terms of health and the economy. Here, we will be talking of revenues that we estimated to fund the budget 2020. Because the oil price has gone so low due to the impact of the virus, the Minister of State should be able to tell us where we will be in the next six months or so.
The meeting specifically touched on the planned review of the 2020 budget and Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper passed late last year by the National Assembly. “We should have concepts that can deliver fast and are sustainable. “Anything that we do that can not provide succor and relief to our people will lead to catastrophe,” the Senate President warned. Also speaking, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila said the meeting was very timely.
“Taking a cursory look at some of the papers (presentations), I think this meeting is actually very timely and very important because we live in very unusual time and it’s time we start thinking outside the box to see how we can stabilise our economy and the direction it’s going to take,” the Speaker said. In her presentation, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, explained that “prior to COVID-19 and Oil price decline, the Nigerian economy was already fragile and vulnerable.”
According to her, due to the a global economic downturn precipitated by the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, international Oil prices plunged as low as $22 (USD) per barrel on the international market. She added that the impact of the pandemic which resulted in international crisis created a disruption in travel and trade, and put “increasing pressure on the naira and foreign reserves as the crude oil sales receipts decline and the country’s micro-economic outlook worsens.”