COVID-19 resurgence threatens 2021 budget, says minister

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said on Thursday that the resurgence of COVID-19 pandemic in Europe may affect the 2021 budget estimate.

She said her ministry did not anticipate the second phase of the pandemic, which has caused the oil price to decline in the international market, while planning the 2021 budget.

The budget was predicated on $40 per barrel. But the current price of the crude oil in the market stands at $37.

Ahmed stated this on Thursday when she appeared before the Senate Committee on Finance to defend her ministry’s budget.

The Chairman of the panel, Senator Solomon  Adeola  had asked the Minister about the contingency plans the Federal Government had put in place to insulate the budget from the shocks of falling oil price.

Responding, the minister said, “The actual projection was $40 per barrel and that is the average price that we projected to be for the year.

 “Some of the institutions that are responsible for tracking price of crude oil actually have crude oil price going as far as $50, $52 per barrel.

“We took the safer path. It seems the second wave of COVID-19 in Europe is affecting us. We are hoping to have clarity as to which direction to take in the next week or two.”

The minister, however, dismissed insinuations that the Federal Government may increase Value Added Tax  again by 2.5 per cent in 2021.

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