Governors Finally Agree to $45 Benchmark

No Comments » November 19th, 2008 posted by // Categories: Nigeriawatch




Govs Finally Agree to $45 Benchmark

•Yar’Adua’s budget presentation called off
From Sufuyan Ojeifo and Juliana Taiwo in Abuja, 11.19.2008

A week after demanding that the 2009 budget should be benchmarked against $50 per barrel of crude oil, the governors of the 36 states yesterday agreed with the Federal Government’s proposal of $45 per barrel.
But President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua will not be able to present the budget to the National Assembly today because of the need for “more consultations”.
The agreement on $45 per barrel benchmark was reached after a comprehensive briefing by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Professor Chukwuma Soludo, and the President’s Economic Team.
Briefing State House correspondents yesterday after the meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC), Chairman of the Governors’ Forum and Governor of Kwara State, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said the governors were satisfied with the explanation given by the government’s economic team.
The governors had risen from their meeting in Abuja last week rejecting the $45 per barrel benchmark, arguing that it was too low bearing in mind the higher price of crude oil in the international market.
But after yesterday’s NEC meeting which was called to address the issue as well as the global economic crisis and its impact on Nigeria, the government’s economic team impressed it on the governors on the need to maintain a lower benchmark.
Also briefing State House correspondents, Soludo said the unpredictable nature of the price of crude oil in the international market makes it imperative for the benchmark to be left at $45 per barrel.
It emerged yesterday too that Yar’Adua will no longer present the 2009 budget in order for the Executive and Legislature to continue with their consultations to avoid any misunderstanding.
Yar’Adua had earlier yesterday approved the shifting of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting billed for 10am today to 2pm to enable him go for the presentation of the budget to the lawmakers.
Citing the need for more consultations on the 2009 budget as reason, the Senate yesterday night announced the call-off of today’s joint session by the National Assembly for the purpose of receiving the 2009 Appropriation Bill.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Information, Senator Ayogu Eze, said the Upper House, acting in concert with the House of Representatives, pushed for postponement of the joint session address to next week.
According to him, “The decision to postpone it was informed by the need for more consultation on the vital fiscal document.”
He said further, “It has been postponed until probably next week. This is to allow for further consultations between the National Assembly, the Budget Office and the Ministry of Finance.
“We are trying to avoid a situation where we will still be having issues with the budget long after it has been presented.
“What we want to ensure is that the necessary input are made and all the grey areas are sorted out before the presentation so as to save both the legislature and the executive time.”
The postponement came after a letter by Yar’Adua, seeking the approval of the National Assembly to address it in a joint session on the 2009 budget, was read on the floor of the Senate yesterday.
According to the two-paragraph letter, “I crave the indulgence of the National Assembly to grant me the slot of 12:00 noon, Wednesday, November 19th, 2008, to formally address the joint Session of the National Assembly on Budget 2009.
“While I thank the Distinguished Members of the Senate of the Federal Republic for the constancy of your cooperation and understanding, please accept, Distinguished Senate President, the assurance of my highest consideration.”
The House of Representatives had also resolved yesterday, consequent upon the President’s letter, to receive him at the joint    session.

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