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2014 Budget: House Adamant, Insists On $79 Benchmark

Source: thewillnigeria.com
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....Senate sticks to $76.5 BEVERLY HILLS, CA, December 11, (THEWILL) - Hope of an early and smooth take off of the 2014 fiscal year dimmed further on Wednesday as the House of Representatives insisted  on the oil benchmark of $79 for the 2014 budget. The Senate also stuck to its gun  of $76.5 oil benchmark for the 2014 appropriation. Consequently, the adamant members of the lower chamber walked out on their  colleagues at the Senate from the harmonisation conference, thus eliciting acrimony between the two chambers. The committee was set up to work out a common ground that could pave the way for President Goodluck Jonathan to present the 2014 budget before the joint session of the National Assembly. He had asked both chambers to harmonise their position on the vexed issue as a pre-condition for him to come and present the budget. Though the meeting held behind closed doors as was the case on Tuesday when the meeting began, insiders said  the members of the two chambers engaged in hot argument. According to a member of the Committee, while the Senate stood its ground that the benchmark should be $76.5 per barrel of oil, the members of the House vowed never to shift ground on their resolution that the benchmark be $79 per barrel. The source said that members of the  House were hoping for "a middle ground" between what they proposed and what the Senate proposed." He noted that from the body language of the Senate, the upper chamber was not prepared to yield to the House members. The source said that "the fear is that from the way members of the House are going, the presentation of the 2014 budget may suffer a major damage. He noted that "this is the first time since 1999 it appears that the appropriation bill may not be presented to parliament for consideration and approval before the year the budget is supposed to  be implemented. The Senators, the source added, would never go beyond the benchmark set by the President and "most of them cautioned the members of House of Representatives  to stop their hard opposition to every government policy unless they want to pull the government down, which will never benefit anybody." The meeting is slated to continue on Thursday. BY EMMA UCHE, ABUJA