By Henry Umoru
THE low price of oil and Nigeria’s over-dependence on the product, currently hovering at $40 per barrel, has culminated in a $14 billion revenue gap.
President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, who disclosed this yesterday, in his welcome address after 67 days of annual recess by the Senators, stressed the urgent need for the country to focus on other important sectors like Agriculture, Solid Minerals, and Steel Development as well as manufacturing, with a view to diversifying the economy.
He stated: “We are confronted with an over $14billion revenue gap and the grim reality of an unwholesome overdependence on Oil. We cannot overemphasize the need to focus on other important sectors like Agriculture, Solid Minerals, and Steel Development and manufacturing, with a view to diversifying our economy. “We need to work with relevant stakeholders to prevent our economy going into a recession, stimulate the economy, save and create more jobs through a sustainable multiplier effect.”
Meanwhile, Lawan said that President Muhammadu Buhari would be presenting the 2021 Appropriation Bill and Budget proposal to the National Assembly next week, and he promised that the Bill would be pass on record time.
The President of the Senate, who hailed the Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning for carrying out comprehensive legislative work on the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, said that the consideration of its report by the upper chamber would precede presentation of the 2021 budget estimates next week by the President.
Lawan said: “The Joint committee will present its report to the Senate today for consideration. This is a precursor to the presentation of the 2021 Budget Estimates by the Executive Arm of Government soon. I am aware that the Executive will be presenting the 2021 Budget Estimates by next week.”
Lawan who noted that the upper chamber will provide a one month window for Budget defense by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government, also said: “Like last year, the month of October, 2020 will be dedicated for this exercise. Subsequent months of November and December will be dedicated to the internal processing of the Budget by NASS.” Also commenting on the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, expected to boost investment in the nation’s oil sector, the Lawan said that the Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Petroleum Resources (Upstream) and Gas had preliminary engagements with the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other Stakeholders in the Oil and Gas industry, to discuss the critical piece of the legislation.