After weeks of disagreement, the two chambers of the National Assembly have harmonized their divergent positions and adopted $79 per barrel as the recommended oil benchmark for the 2013-2015 Medium Term Expenditure Framework(MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper.
President Jonathan had predicated the 2013 -2015 MTEF and Fiscal Strategy Paper on an oil benchmark of $75 and had based the 2013 Appropriation Bill on the same benchmark. However, controversy arose when the House and the Senate adopted $80 per barrel and $78 per barrel respectively during the consideration of the proposals in their separate chambers.
This divergence of positions on the matter resulted in the setting up of a Joint Conference Committee in the National Assembly to explore the possibility of reaching a common position.
After extensive deliberations and consultations by the conference committee, a harmonized report was adopted yesterday, recommending $79 per barrel as the appropriate oil benchmark price. According to the report, the additional funds arising from the $4 increase over and above the $75 proposed by the executive will be used to reduce domestic borrowing and the budget deficit as well as funding critical infrastructure projects.