Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation
BARRING a last minute change, the National Assembly may reconvene soon to deliberate on the falling oil price and the adjustment of the 2020 Budget benchmark from US$53 per barrel to US$30
Also slated for discussion by the legislative arm are budget cut especially capital votes, the COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund and fiscal stimulus.
The National Assembly may also approve the N102.5billion resources provided by the Federal Government for healthcare sector direct interventions including the N6.5billion given to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for critical expenditure.
The break in the recess by the lawmakers will depend on whether President Muhammadu Buhari will extend the coronavirus lockdown.
The Nation gathered that Senators and Representatives were informally asked at the weekend to be on standby for a possible recall this new week.
A reliable source said: “Following consultations by the leaders of the National Assembly, we have been tentatively and informally told that we may reconvene on Wednesday to attend to urgent issues on the state of the nation’s economy and COVID-19 pandemic.
“Most of us are now in Abuja awaiting the final decision of our leadership. We will expect a formal notice from Monday.
“A major issue which will determine the decision of the National Assembly leadership on our sitting is President Muhammadu Buhari’s position on the extension or otherwise of the lockdown in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states.
“If the lockdown is extended, we will not want to be seen as breaking the law or else we are now treated as essential workers.
“We are ready but our leaders are trying to sort out the logistics with the Presidency.”
Ahead of the recall of members of the National Assembly, the Presidential Fiscal Stimulus Committee team, led by the Minister of Finance, Hajiya Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, was at the National Assembly on Wednesday for a consultative meeting.
The issues discussed with the National Assembly leaders will be the template for the plenary of the two chambers this week.
On her twitter handle, the Minister of Finance, Hajiya Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, gave insights into the expectations of the Federal Government from the lawmakers.
She said: “The Federal Government is revising the benchmark oil price for 2020 to US$30 per barrel and oil production to 1.7million barrels per day.
“We have similarly had to adjust downwards our non-oil revenue projections, including various tax and customs receipts, as well as proceeds of privatization exercises.
“The Budget Office is currently working on amendments to Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEP 2020-2022) and 2020 Appropriation Act.
“The proposed amended budget will provide for COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund and other adjustments required due to the decline in international oil prices.
“The Presidential Fiscal Stimulus Committee members, led by the Minister of Finance were at the National Assembly on April 8 for a consultative meeting with the leaders on COVID-19 measures; oil price decline and Nigerian budget review amongst others.
“More to be provided from the proposed crisis intervention fund to address emerging and priority funding needed.
“We have projected that monthly Federation Account Allocation Committee receipts may decline to below N400billion over the next three to six months.
“Due to the significant drop in international oil prices, FAAC monthly disbursements have declined in recent months to N716.3b (January); N647.4b (February) and N581b (March).
“The details of the moratorium for states on Federal Government and CBN-funded loans will be expeditiously worked out.”