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JONATHAN MAY PRESENT 2012 BUDGET DEC 13

By NBF News
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Barring any last minute changes, President Goodluck Jonathan is expected to present estimates of the N4.8 trillion 2012 budget to the National Assembly on December 13. The expected presentation is coming amid unresolved issues on the propriety of the removal of the oil subsidy.

The House of Representatives had been vocal in its opposition to the removal of oil subsidy, while a cross section of eminent Nigerians had also kicked against the idea. Daily Sun gathered that inability of the Presidency to secure the assurances of the National Assembly on its proposal to remove oil subsidy next year had earlier stalled presentation of the 2012 Appropriation Bill.

The new budget was scheduled to have been presented in the last week of November, but had to be shelved because of conflicting signals from the National Assembly.

To ensure that the budget gets a safe landing, last month, the Presidency embarked on a public relations blitz with the National Assembly after a similar meeting with all 145 committee chairmen in the NASS failed in October.

Another enlarged meeting of all the 469 members of the National Assembly ended in a deadlock as the House of Representatives seized control of the meeting and told the President pointblank to forget any idea of removing oil subsidy.

Thereafter, the Presidency opted for a phased consultation with the National Assembly and Daily Sun reliably gathered that the 'first set of lawmakers to see the President were just sixteen. We were led to the meeting by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, and were told that future meetings would also be in batches.'

It has, however, emerged that having failed to present the budget in November, the Presidency, in consultation with the leadership of the National Assembly and key chairmen of some committees have picked a tentative date of December 13.

A National Assembly source recounted to Daily Sun that, 'for now, we have agreed that the President should present the budget on December 13, though the oil subsidy issue had not even been resolved.' On the oil subsidy debacle, the National Assembly source confirmed that, 'There are still consultations. The matter is still there, that's why it took them long to even contemplate bringing the budget.' Barring any change, President Jonathan is expected to present a N4.8 trillion budget with a revised oil benchmark of $70 and exchange rate of $150 respectively.