Jonathan delegates Okonjo-Iweala to present Budget 2014

By The Rainbow

In an unprecedented move, President Goodluck Jonathan has asked the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to present the 2014 Appropriation Bill to the joint session of the National Assembly on his behalf on Thursday.

The President's letter to the National Assembly was read to lawmakers of both chambers of the National Assembly on Wednesday.

It will be the first time that the president of Nigeria will delegate such a constitutional responsibility to a minister.

'It has never been done before. Not in any democracy in the world', said a former Nigerian senator who felt the delegation of the duty amounts to an insult to the National Assembly.

The presentation of the budget has been postponed twice because the Senate and the House of Representatives could not agree on the crude oil benchmark to be used in calculating the budget estimate.

The House of Representatives has approved the request of President Goodluck Jonathan for the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to present the 2014 budget to both chambers of the National Assembly.

The House approved Thursday, December 19, for Dr. Okonjo-Iweala to lay the budget before the lawmakers but the Senate is yet to take a decision on the letter.

Ahead of tomorrow presentation, the House of Representatives on Wednesday approved $77.5 as crude oil benchmark and also adopted the conference report on the 2014-2016 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).The President had initially proposed $74 as the oil benchmark, but the Senate had insisted on $76.5 as the oil benchmark, while the House of Representatives also insisted on $79.

Tthe two chambers agreed on $77.5 yesterday as a middle ground approach, thus paving the way for the presentation of the budget.

However, the lawmakers may not begin work on the Appropriation Act until next year as they will be proceeding on their Christmas and New Year vacation on Thursday.

The Senate is yet to receive the report despite the scheduling of the report on the order paper.

Both chambers agreed to leave the oil benchmark at 77.5 dollars per barrel, ending months of disagreement.

The initial proposed 2014 Budget presentation date was shifted by the Nigerian President due to the delay by the Senate and the House of Representatives in reaching a common ground on the benchmark.