Senators disagree over $76.5 oil benchmark

Senate-Chamber522 November 2013, Abuja – Even though the Senate had adopted $76.5 crude oil benchmark for 2014 budget as recommended by the joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on Appropriation and Finance, some senators are not readily disposed to this decision.

Investigations showed that some of the senators believe that the executive has no justifiable reason to bring down the benchmark from its current state in anticipation of a possible fall in global crude oil prices.

Some senators, who spoke with THISDAY yesterday, argued that $76.5 crude oil benchmark in 2014 was too low when compared with the current $108 global price of crude oil.

According to them, nothing suggests any possible fall in the global price of crude oil in 2014 moreso that the price has been stable in the international market in the past three years.

Further, they argued that if the crude oil price is pegged at $76.5 per barrel, the executive would not at the end of the year account for the remaining gains as they noted that the recent drop of the sum in Excess Crude Account (ECA) from $9 billion to $4 billion was another testimony of inefficient use of excess crude savings.

They argued that a situation where Excess Crude Account becomes regularly depleted despite benching the oil price at a lower rate shows that such decision does not produce desired results.
Some senators also told THISDAY that their support for the adoption of $76.5 benchmark recommended by the Joint National Assembly Committee on Appropriation and Finance did not necessarily mean that they were convinced that it is the appropriate decision but rather because of fears that doing otherwise “would rock the boat.”

According to a senator, the Senate always supports issues that emanate from the Presidency because senators do not want to be marked as the president’s enemies. He commended the House of Representatives which he said possessed the nerve to oppose some executive decisions and defy the consequences.

One of the senators who believe that government’s search for $76.5 dollar benchmark is not justifiable and did not mince words to say so is Senator Femi Lanlehin (Oyo South).

Lanlehin who admitted that he was bound by Senate decision on the benchmark, hailed the courage of members of the House of Representatives to insist on $79 benchmark.
He said the House was taking the bold lead because members are more vibrant because they are much younger than senators most of whom he said were either almost six years of age or more older.

But Senator Smart Adeyemi (Kogi West), who said though the House might not be totally wrong with its adoption of $79 benchmark, added that both chambers only looked at the issue from different perspectives but assured that they would eventually strike a balance in a matter of days.

According to him, the executive is driving for $76.5 benchmark because nobody could guarantee the stability of the oil sector adding that they all meant well for the country since the overall pursuit is to ensure the funding of infrastructural facilities, create enabling environment, improve the well being of Nigerians and galvanising industrial growth.

– This Day

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