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FG to cut 2020 budget, review benchmark over falling oil prices

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Zainab Ahmed, the minister of finance, budget and national planning, says the committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari will assess the extent to which the 2020 budget will be cut.

Ahmed was speaking on Monday after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja.

Crude oil prices have dropped below Nigeria’s $57 benchmark. As at 8am on Tuesday, Brent crude was trading at $36.70 per barrel.

Addressing journalists, 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 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 him tomorrow or Wednesday morning and after that, we’ll also have more substantial information for the press.

“It is very clear that we will have to revisit the crude oil benchmark price that we have of $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.

“What the impact will be on that is that there will be reduced revenue to the budget and it will mean cutting the size of the budget. The quantum of the cut is what we are supposed to assess as a committee.”

In his remarks, Timipre Sylva, the minister of state for petroleum, said Nigeria cannot engage either Russia and Saudi Arabia.

“We, as a member of OPEC, are not in a position to take that engagement on our own unilaterally. There was a disagreement between OPEC and OPEC+, it’s not just Russia, but the biggest producers within OPEC and OPEC+ are Saudi Arabia and Russia.

“We believe that in the coming days when all of us would have begun to see the effect of the reduction of prices, OPEC and OPEC+ might need to meet again and reconsider our positions.”

Oil prices fell as a result of a disagreement between the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies.

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