Ahead of the presentation of the 2014 budget by President Goodluck Jonathan next week, the House of Representatives yesterday pegged the benchmark price of crude oil at $79 per barrel.
It was however gathered that there was a sharp division in the House, which was influenced by political considerations, over the decision on the oil benchmark to adopt for next year’s budget.
At a closed-door session, 79 lawmakers supported adopting $79 per barrel as the oil benchmark while 62 others stuck with the executive’s proposal of $74 per barrel.
However, the Senate and House Joint Committees on Finance and Appropriation had pegged the oil benchmark at $76.5 per barrel last week.
As such, the decision by the House to backtrack on the agreement reached with the Senate irked some members who elected to stay away from yesterday’s session when the 2014 – 2016 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) was being considered for adoption.
According to a report of the House Committees on Finance, Appropriation and two others which worked on the MTEF and FSP, N160 to $1 was adopted as the exchange rate for the next three years.
The report projected the successive volume of crude oil production between 2014 and 2016 at 2.3million barrels per day (mbpd) 2.5 mbpd, and 2.5 mbpd respectively while putting the corporate tax and Value Added Tax (VAT) at 30 percent and 5 percent respectively.
“The government should strengthen and consolidate its fiscal strategy to narrow the gap between projected and actual revenue for the period 2014 – 2016 by curtailing oil theft and diversifying the economy to increase tax bases so as to increase tax revenue,” the report said.
The House requested that “details of SURE-P projects to be executed be attached as an addendum to the annual budget estimates for approval by the National Assembly.”
It also called for the distribution of N666 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to the three tiers of government as proposed by the executive.