The federal government through, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, finance minister and coordinating minister for the economy, is set to present the estimates of the 2014 budget to the National Assembly, NASS, any moment from now. President Goodluck Jonathan announced this shortly after both the Senate and House of Representatives settled their differences and agreed on $77.5 as the crude oil benchmark to be adopted for the budget. Both chambers of the Assembly settled for $77.5 after series of reconciliation meetings over the matter for weeks.
Jonathan, who informed the legislators about his decision to delegate the finance minister to present the budget estimates through a letter did not to specify the date the presentation would be made before both chambers. But there are speculations that Okonjo-Iweala would carry out the assignment today, Thursday, which the lawmakers are expected to proceed on their Christmas and New Year break.
Also, members of the House of Representatives approved the controversial 2014-2016 Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, yesterday. This followed a closed-door session, where they studied the report of the Conference Committee on the MTEF that sat with the Senate to harmonise the oil benchmark figures. Jonathan initially proposed $74 as the oil benchmark. However, the Senate raised it to $76.5, while the House went for $79. The different figures led to a dispute between the two chambers on the one hand, and the federal government on the other.
The dispute caused a major set back for the presentation of the budget estimates by President Jonathan. Scheduled presentation of the budget to the National Assembly was cancelled twice in November. At a point, the conference committee adjourned indefinitely, but reconvened on last Tuesday to agree on $77.5.
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