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FG determined to improve revenues, taking steps –Udoma

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The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, on Tuesday in Abuja, emphasised that the Federal Government was determined to improve its revenue generation this year.

He said already some steps were being taken in that direction.

While briefing the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Finance, Appropriation, Planning and Economic Development on the 2019 revenue and expenditure projections as contained in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) 2019-2021), the minister stated that one of the reasons it could not realise its revenue target for 2018 was that some one-off items listed for implementation in the fiscal year were not actualised.

But he said those items which included the N710 billion from Oil Joint Venture Asset Restructuring and N320 billion from revision of the Oil Production Sharing Contract Legislation/terms had been rolled over to 2019.

Among other initiatives aimed at expanding the fiscal space, the minister indicated that the Federal Government would intensify efforts to improve public financial management through the comprehensive implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

Also the Department of Petroleum Resources has been directed to, within three months, complete the collection of past-due oil license and royalty charges, including those due from Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) (a subsidiary of NNPC), which it had agreed to pay since 2017.

The minister said the Ministry of Finance, working with all the relevant authorities, had been authorized to take action to liquidate all recovered, unencumbered assets within six months.

Amongst other revenue generating initiatives, he said the president had directed that work should be immediately concluded on the deployment of the National Trade Window and other technologies to enhance customs collections efficiency from the current 64 per cent to up to 90 per cent over the next few years.

He indicated that in spite of the challenges that militated against the realisation of targeted revenues, the revenues generated in 2018 showed a significant improvement over 2017.

He said that he expected further improvement this year with the sustained implementation of the prescriptions of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

The minister explained that the ERGP guided allocations in the Federal Government budget because it set out the key execution priorities of government for the growth and development of the economy.

Government, he added, was encouraged by the results so far attained after implementing the plan for about two years.

He said the economy had exited from recession and was on the path of growth, even though it took time for the impact to be fully felt by a significant number of people.

“It takes time, and will take some more efforts but we will keep working on it so as to fully realise the objectives of the ERGP. The implementation of the ERGP will create growth and jobs and reduce poverty,” Udoma assured.

Explaining the basis for some of the assumptions in the MTEF/FSP, the minister said the oil price benchmark was arrived at after extensive consultations with industry experts and consultants; and he indicated that he believed that the $60 per barrel projected for 2019 was achieveable.

He noted that oil was currently trading at about US$67.

On the limitation imposed by OPEC production quota, the minister also explained that there was no quota set for condensates by OPEC.

Nigeria, he said, could use condensate production to augment its production.

“Mr. President has directed the NNPC to take all possible measures to achieve the targeted oil production of 2.3 million barrels per day,” he added.

Udoma told the committee that the 2019 Budget proposals, which were based on the MTEF/FSP sought to continue the reflationary and consolidation policies of the 2017 and 2018 Budgets respectively, which helped restore the economy back on to the path of growth.

He explained that in allocating funds in the 2019 budget proposals, priority was given to critical infrastructure projects.

Others who made presentations before the Committee included the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed; Chairman, FIRS, Mr Tunde Fowler; Accountant General of the Federation, Ibrahim Idris; Director General of the Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha; Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Ali; representatives of the Central Bank Governor and the Group Managing Director of NNPC.

The Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, was also at the meeting.

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