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Budget benchmark: Senate raises 6-man harmonisation committee

By The Rainbow
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•Optimistic that budget will be presented next week

Senate President has empanelled a six-member conference committee with the mandate to harmonise differences in the crude oil benchmark price for 2014 budget with the House of Representatives.

This followed the inability of President Goodluck Jonathan to present 2014 budget to the National Assembly on Tuesday primarily due to the differences between the two chambers of NASS with the executive over the budgetary benchmark.

The Senate committee is headed by Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Ahmed Makarfi (Kaduna North).

Other members of the committee are Senators Patrick Ayo Akinyelure (Ondo Central), Ita Enang (Akwa Ibom North- east), Bello Mohammed Tukur (Adamawa Central), Smart Adeyemi (Kogi West) and Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South).

The committee will reconcile the disparate crude oil benchmarks approved by both chambers of the National Assembly.

Under the 2014 - 2016 Medium Term Economic Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) submitted to the National Assembly in September, the executive had proposed $74 per barrel as the 2014 budget benchmark.

However, following an understanding reached between the executive and legislature, a joint Senate and House Committee of Finance and Appropriation, raised the benchmark to $76.5 per barrel two weeks ago.

But whilst the Senate kept to its end of the bargain when it passed the MTEF/FSP last week, the House hiked the benchmark to $79 per barrel, much to the irritation of the executive.

The House is also expected raise its own six-member committee to harmonise their positions and possibly pave the way for the president to present the budget next week.