By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
In a bid to insulate the economy from falling crude oil prices the federal government announced far-reaching policy measures to deal with the crashing crude oil prices, cutting 2015 oil benchmark from $78 to $73 per barrel. Crude oil prices dropped to $77.76 per barrel, some cents below the $78 earlier proposed to the National Assembly as bench mark for the 2015 budget.
Keeping to her earlier warning that the government will soon introduce measures to protect the economy she said: “As part of the response to falling oil prices, the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Budget 2015 proposal to the National Assembly have been revised. Government is now proposing a benchmark of $73 per barrel to the National Assembly compared to the earlier proposed benchmark of $78.The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told journalists in Abuja that the decision to cut revenue projection was part of measures designed to maintain economic stability, boost non-oil revenues further, plug loopholes and waste, as well as cut unnecessary expenditures in order to cope with the situation.
“Given the nature of the oil market, we needed to see the extent and trend of the oil price in order to take the right measures. Panic is not a strategy. It’s important that our strategies are based on facts and a clear understanding of both the strengths of the economy and the challenges posed by the drop in oil prices which is currently at $79 for our premium Bonny Light Crude.