The chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, Dr. Bukola Saraki has challenged the federal government to give full disclosure of the state of the nation’s economy, and expressed concern over the nation’s revenue base which are currently caving in under the stress of falling price of oil in the international market. Saraki, who is also a member of the Senate committee on Finance in a statement he personally signed and made available to Journalists in Ilorin said that, “we have a problem in our hands but not one that cannot be surmounted with the right political will.
He said there was need for a meeting of the National Economic Council to proffer a collective and workable decision on the national contingency and viable benchmark oil price.
The immediate past Governor of Kwara state, who identified crude oil theft, continuing payment of subsidy on kerosene just to enrich some private pockets and granting pioneer status to some oil companies that would deny the nation high revenue as well as the controversial oil
SWAP project of the NNPC as some of the key areas that must be reviewed by government if the nation were to get out of the looming economic disaster said urgent efforts must be made to sanitize these systems.
“These are troubling times for the Nigerian economy. Our revenue base is caving in under the stress of falling price of oil in the international market. Due to the drastic and persistent nature of this fall from the highs of $115 in June of this year, it is my considered view that we can’t continue to give the impression that it is business as usual.
“The fact that the free fall in the international oil market price has seen it losing over 25% of early June highs means that correspondingly our economy has lost over 25% of budget revenue estimates of the period as a result. More ominously, the fact that it continues to fall unabated means that it is not getting better yet and therefore we must now apply the breaks and act fast before they get out of hand.
“This is not the time to paint over the rust, discussions and the choices we make now must be based on economics not politics. “The current position to put the benchmark for oil price at $78 is
inconsistent with the economic trend and attitude of the managers of our economy, which has shown in the past to be very wary of over optimistic benchmark assumptions settling rather for the more prudent conservative base.
“Aside the issue of the benchmark, the country needs a contingency plan in place now. There is no country leadership that can continue to act like business as usual where it faces over 25% drop in its annual revenues. Our foreign reserves have depleted considerably from the heights it had achieved of over $58b to the $39bn we have now. What this means is that we have small room to maneuver than we had in 2008. Since most of this cost will be borne by the capital side of expenditure there is a likelihood that the implication will be in job losses, unemployment, social imbalance etc. none of the impact will be positive.”