By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA — The National Assembly, NASS, will from tomorrow consider the passage of the 2015 Appropriation Bill and the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategic Paper, MTEF &FSP, which was presented to it before the Christmas and New Year break.
The 2015 Appropriation Bill was submitted to the NASS by the Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, last December.
The House of Representatives will also, on its part, debate electoral matters and other issues of national interest which would top the agenda as they resume from a three-week Christmas break tomorrow.
Vanguard reliably gathered that the House may slash the oil benchmark from $65 to $40, considering the rate at which the price of crude oil has been fluctuating between $47.3 and $50 per barrel in the oil market.
Also on the front burner for deliberations of the House is the issue of 2015 general elections scheduled for next month.
The House Committee on Electoral Matters headed by Rep Jerry Manwe, PDP, Taraba had invited the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega to the House last Friday to tell Nigerians his readiness to conduct the 2015 polls, but the INEC boss failed to show up due to his ill-health.
Similarly, the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, which has generated so much debate among Nigerians, especially the stakeholders in the industry, is another issue that is waiting for the lawmakers to deal with.
But it is not clear whether the considerations of the 2015 budget would be based on the previous benchmark of $65 per barrel and the exchange rate of N165 following the continuous fall of the oil price in international market and the exchange rate that had risen to N200 in the parallel market.
“As you know the first MTEF with the budget benchmark of $78 per barrel was submitted to the National Assembly on 30th September 2014, and discussion on the MTEF and budget construction based on those estimates began with the relevant Committees of the National Assembly.
“However, shortly after that first submission, oil prices began to fall precipitously leading to a revision of the oil benchmark price in the MTEF to $73 per barrel which was resubmitted to the National Assembly on the 18th of November 2014.