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2014 Budget: House sets up five-man MTEF conference committee

By The Rainbow

The House of Representatives on Wednesday set up  a five man conference committee to meet with the Senate to harmonise the oil benchmark price for the 2014-2016 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

The  chairman, Committee on Finance, Hon. Abdulmunini Jibrin (PDP, Kano) heads the committee, which membership  include chairman, Loan and Debts Committee, Hon.  Adeyinka Ajayi (APC, Osun), Hon. Ibrahim Shehu Gusau (APC, Zamfara), Hon. Abdurrahman Terraf (APC, Borno) and Hon. Forte  Dike (PDP, Anambra).

The crux of the matter for them to work out is the harmonization of the budget benchmark which the two chambers have significant difference.  the  House of Representatives had adopted $79 as benchmark for oil price, while the Senate approved $76.5.

President Goodluck Jonathan had cited these differences for shelving the  presentation of the 2014 budget proposal penultimate Tuesday.

Jonathan had in  a letter sent to Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, said,  'Whereas the Senate has approved the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) based on the benchmark of $76.5 per barrel, the Honourable House of Representatives has used a benchmark of $79 per barrel, it is infeasible for me to present the budget in absence of harmonised position on MTEF.

'In the circumstance, it has become necessary to defer the presentation of the 2014 budget to a joint session of the National Assembly until such a time when both respective chambers would have harmonised their position on MTEF. It is my hope that this will be in the shortest possible time.'

The Federal Government has approved  N42 billion for the rehabilitation and dualisation of some federal and international roads in the northern states

The Federal Executive Council (FEC), who gave the approval,  endorsed  the request by the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) to engage a South African firm to provide it with the technical support to enable it step up its revenue generation in the areas of non-oil sector of the economy.

. It has also approved a memo by President Goodluck Jonathan for the award of contract for the supply of 70,000 software development and support for Permanent Voters Card Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Readers.

This is in addition to the approval given for the new National Addressing Policy System in the country.

These were made public during a joint press conference after the FEC meeting Wednesday by the Ministers of Information, Labaran Maku;

Works minister , Mike Onolememen, told journalists during a briefing after the meeting,  said the affected roads include the Ilorin-Omuaran-Kabba-Obajana road in Kwara/Kogi states in the sum of N8,217,373,106.17 with a completion period of 36 months.

Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Communications Technology, Omobola Johnson,  also spoke during the briefing.

Maku said the approval for the purchase of the software followed a memo submitted by the President, in line with his administration's determination to ensure free, fair and credible elections, hence the need to acquire 160,000 Smart Card Readers in order to authenticate the permanent voters card at the polling units during 2015 general elections.

The Information Minister also said following a memo brought by the his Works counterpart, council approved four contracts for rehabilitation of three federal roads in Kogi/Kwara, Bauchi/Plateau and Adamawa states and dualisation of one federal road in Kano State.