COVID-19: Why FG may review 2020 Budget…says minister

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By Bose Olamide

The adverse effects of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the Nigeria economy, may lead to a downward review of the N10.57 trillion Appropriation Act, the federal government declared on Monday.

Indeed, the government noted sliding crude oil prices, as responsible for the decision.

Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister Zainab Ahmed dropped the hint at the State House in Abuja after an emergency meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

At the meeting were: Minister of State for Finance Clement Agba; Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva; Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group Managing Director Mele Kyari.

They deliberated on the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak on the economy.

Briefing reporters on the issues discussed with the President, Mrs. Ahmed, who is the chairman of the Committee, said the group has a mandate to do a quick assessment of the impact of the outbreak of COVID-19 on the nation’s economy, especially as it affects crude oil benchmark price.

According to her, the committee would today submit its findings to the President, adding that the quantum of the cut on the budget would depend on what the assessment reveals.

She said: “We just met with the President to discuss the matter of the impact of the Coronavirus on our economy and Mr. President has formed us into a committee, with the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, the GMD NNPC and myself as members.

”Our mandate is to make a quick assessment of the impact of this Coronavirus on the economy, especially as it affects the crude oil price. We will be writing a report and brief Mr. President tomorrow (today) or Wednesday (tomorrow) morning and after that we’ll also have more substantial information for the press.

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“But it is very clear that we will have to revisit the crude oil benchmark price that we have at $57 per barrel, we have to revisit it and lower the price. Where it will be lowered to is the subject of the work of this Committee”.

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