Crude oil benchmark – Senate, Reps may opt for joint sitting

National-Assembly-BuildingFollowing the failure of the Senate Harmonisation Committee and that of the House of Representatives on Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) to come to a compromise on the benchmark for crude oil in 2014 budget, the lawmakers may go for voting in a joint sitting presided over by the senate president.

Recall that both committees last week failed to harmonise their earlier positions of $76.5 for Senate and $79 for House respectively.

Chairman of Media and Public Affairs Committee of the House, Hon Zakari Mohammed (PDP, Kwara) said yesterday in a phone chat with LEADERSHIP that if further attempts at reaching a common benchmark fail, the two chambers will have to use the final tool to decide.

“We will then have to have a joint session presided over by the president of the Senate, David Mark and the speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Waziri Tambuwal will cast his votes along with other lawmakers in support for the benchmark he favours”, Zakari said.

Recall that the House and the Senate raised separate committees to meet and harmonise different figures reached by the two chambers when they passed the MTEF. The presidency had presented $74, the Senate passed $76.5 while the House passed $79.

With attention focused on the benchmark, the likelihood of the presidency presenting the budget to the National Assembly is very slim considering that the legislators will be on recess for the yuletide on Thursday.

President Goodluck Jonathan had earlier informed the National Assembly that he will delay the presentation of the budget pending when they agree on a fixed benchmark to be used for the oil benchmark in 2014.

But barely three days to go, nothing has changed since then. According to the House spokesman in a phone chat last night, “the two committees have not reached an agreement and we have not received any letter from the presidency notifying us of any request from the presidency to come and lay the budget”.





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