Oil Benchmark: Lawmakers walk out of conference meeting

aminu-waziri-tambuwal112 December 2013, Abuja – The conference committee of both the Senate and House of Representatives on Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) again failed to resolve the logjam on oil benchmark for the 2014 budget Wednesday as House members walked out of the meeting in anger.

The meeting of 11-man committee, which resumed on Tuesday, could not agree on a uniform benchmark as both sides stuck to its position.

THISDAY learnt that argument ensued among members of the committee over moves to resolve the discrepancies in the oil benchmark, prompting the House members to prefer staging a walk out to yielding to senators’ insistence to bring down the oil benchmark to $76.5 per barrel.

Failure of both legislative chambers to agree on a uniform benchmark has brought the nation to a stalemate and thus putting the presentation of 2014 budget on hold.

While the Senate had adopted $76.5 per barrel as the oil benchmark for 2014 budget in accordance with the agreement of Joint National Assembly Committee on Finance and Appropriation with the executive, the House retained the current $79 per barrel in the 2013 budget.

The discrepancies in the oil benchmark forced President Goodluck Jonathan to postpone the planned presentation of the budget on November 12 pending the resolution of the impasse by both houses.

However, the nation has since then waited for a smooth resolution of the crisis, a development seen as a major setback for Nigerians who awaited a repeat of the 2013 feat.
The 2013 budget was passed December 20 last year.

Upon resumption of the meeting on Tuesday, Senate Committee Chairman on Information, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, said its outcome was fruitful but added that no agreement had been reached yet.

“The committee met and had fruitful discussions and adjourned for further talks tomorrow. As I said above, the meeting adjourned to tomorrow. We have not agreed on the benchmark,” he said.

But despite yesterday’s walkout, THISDAY learnt that the meeting would again resume today.

– This Day

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