Oil Benchmark: Senate, Reps Conference Adjourns Sine die

Source: thewillnigeria.com
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.....Fail to reach agreement BEVERLY HILLS, CA, December 12, (THEWILL) - The Senate and House of Representatives conference committee to harmonise position on the 2014 budget oil benchmark on Thursday suspended sitting indefinitely, thus foreclosing the possibility of President Goodluck Jonathan presenting the budget before the joint session of the National Assembly this year. Representatives of both chambers at the harmonisation conference failed to reach an agreement on a uniform benchmark, despite the Senate bending backwards to offer $77 as against its earlier stance of $76.5. The House members were said to have remained adamant as they refused to shift ground, insisting on their position of $79 as the benchmark. Confirming the development via a text message, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Enyinnaya Abaribe, said the last meeting of the conference committee Thursday   ended in stalemate over differential oil benchmarks proposal for the budget between the Senate and the House of Representatives members. Abaribe who is also a member of the committee said: 'The last meeting of the conference committee ended in stalemate. There was no agreement because despite the Senate members of the committee shifting to $77per barrel as oil benchmark for the budget from the previous position of $76.5 per barrel, Hon Members from the House remained adamant on their earlier proposed $79 per barrel which resulted into adjournment of the meeting sine die (indefinitely).' The development,  as worrisome as it were, has effectively foreclosed the possibility of  the President presenting   the budget this year, more so, as the National Assembly winds up legislative activities for this year next Thursday, December 19. Before the indefinite adjournment, the committee had met twice, on  Tuesday and Wednesday,  to find a common ground for the oil benchmark for the budget, but twice,  the meeting ended in deadlock. The Executive had proposed an oil benchmark of $74 per barrel for the budget, but the Senate and House of Representatives fixed it at $76.5 and $79 respectively. The disagreement between the two chambers forced President Jonathan  to postpone the presentation of  the budget on Tuesday November 19    for the two chambers to harmonise their positions. It could be recalled that when the committee met on Wednesday , following the disagreement between the two chambers and the insistence of each chamber on its earlier position, members of House of Representatives reportedly walked out on the Senate. However, another source at the meeting disclosed that after a heated argument and plea  for the House of Representatives to shift ground from their position, which did not work out, the committee 'adjourned sine die.' The source further said  :  ''What this portends is that the 2014 budget will not be presented till next year.' BY EMMA UCHE, ABUJA