Gist: 2014 budget: Reps, Senate disagree on oil benchmark  (Read 1010 times)

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2014 budget: Reps, Senate disagree on oil benchmark
by dayod247 « on: November 15, 2013, 09:38:55 AM »

The House of Representatives on Thursday adopted a crude oil benchmark of $79 per barrel for the 2014 budget.

This is in sharp contrast to the position of the Senate which pegged it at $76.50 as announced on Wednesday. President Goodluck Jonathan had proposed $74 for the 2014 fiscal year.

The reps took the position when they considered and approved the report of the House Joint Committee on Finance/Budget/Loans and Debt Management on the 2014-2016 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper.

The MTEF/FSP must precede the budget of the incoming year in compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.

It sets out government’s spending projections and revenues for the next three years as the current financial year winds down.

The $79 is, however, consistent with the crude oil benchmark of the 2013 budget.

But the different positions of the two chambers of the National Assembly imply that they must harmonise their differences.

Drama had preceded the passage of the MTEF/FSP on Thursday. For instance, as early as 9am, the various party caucuses at the House held a series of meetings to take a position on the issue.

The All Progressives Congress caucus reportedly resolved to stop the passage of the document.

The grouse of the caucus, according to one member, “is the poor implementation of the 2013 budget.”

The member added, “The MTEF will be stopped; Mr. President has not come to present the 2014 budget estimates yet.

“There are many unresolved issues; see what is happening to capital projects, no implementation.

“You are complaining of revenue shortfall and can’t fund projects, but you want to save money.”

On its part, some members of the PDP caucus, tried to rally support for Jonathan.

They had reportedly planned to ensure that the President’s proposal, especially on the benchmark stayed.

But, in the course of voting, members opted for $79, a figure proposed on the floor by the Minority Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila.

The Speaker of the House, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, sensing that there might trouble, quickly called for an executive session to discuss the MTEF before passing it in the open.

The session lasted for over two hours.

A source informed The PUNCH that tempers rose at the session, as there was a division between those supporting the passing of the MTEF and those opposing it.

“At a point, there was confusion on which way to go.

“It took the intervention of Tambuwal, who used diplomacy to guide members in a bid to avoid the disruption of the proceedings”, the source added.

In open plenary, tension was still in the air, as members considered the MTEF clause by clause.

An attempt by the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha, to prevail on members not to change the oil benchmark was vehemently resisted by an overwhelming shout of “No.”

Source: Punch


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