The Senate Committee on Gas has cautioned President Bola Tinubu against extra-budgetary expenditure on his Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) initiative, which he announced on Sunday as part of the measures to cushion the impact of the removal of subsidies on petrol.
The president should submit a 2023 extra budget to the lawmakers to finance the CNG project and other gas-related activities, as the committee headed by Senator Jarigbe Jarigbe recommended.
The senators said that the law forbids the executive from spending public funds without the approval of the legislature and warned against resorting to ways and means that could undermine the fiscal discipline and accountability of the government.
The committee commended Tinubu for the CNG initiative, which aims to provide cheaper and cleaner alternative fuel for transportation and domestic use and reduce the dependence on imported petrol.
However, the committee noted that the CNG project would require massive investment in infrastructure, such as pipelines, filling stations, conversion kits, and vehicles, which are not captured in the 2023 budget.
The committee also expressed concern over the source of funding for the CNG project, which Tinubu said would be partly financed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through low-interest loans to the private sector.
The senators argued that the CBN should not be involved in such fiscal operations, which could compromise its independence and mandate of maintaining price stability and ensuring the soundness of the financial system.
The committee urged the president to consult with the National Assembly and other relevant stakeholders before embarking on any major policy decision that could have significant implications for the economy and the welfare of the citizens.
The committee assured the president of its support and cooperation in finding lasting solutions to the challenges facing the country, especially in the energy sector.