There appears to be a superiority battle between the two chambers of the National Assembly over the 2013 Budget presented last week by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The crisis which is quietly brewing is between the Senate and House of Representatives is about the benchmark price for the sale of crude oil in 2013 budget.
While the Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved $78 per barrel as the benchmark price for the sale of crude oil in the 2013 budget, the House of Representatives has proposed $80 per barrel.
President Goodluck Jonathan had in the 2013 budget proposal he presented to both chambers last week proposed $75 per barrel as the benchmark.
The approval of $78 per barrel by the Senate followed the adoption of the report presented by Senator Ahmed Makarfi of the Senate joint Committee on Finance and National Planning, Economic Affairs, and Poverty Alleviation on the 2013 – 2015 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper of the Jonathan administration.
Speaking to journalists after plenary, Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, said the Senate would set up a conference committee to agree on the crude oil benchmark for the 2013 budget with the House of Representatives which had a benchmark price of $80 per barrel.
Also, the Senate approved a crude oil production per day of 2.53mbd, 2.61 mbd and 2.65mbd for 2013, 2014, and 2015 respectively at an average exchange rate of N160 to the dollar
While advising the Federal Government to exercise extreme caution on foreign borrowing, the Senate said the administration should strengthen and consolidate its fiscal strategy to narrow the gap between projected, and actual revenue for 2013 – 2015 by curtailing crude oil theft, and diversifying the economy to increase revenue.
The Senate further said the administration should make specific provision for subsidy payments for 2013 or state its intention to stop subsidizing petroleum products.
It added that corporate tax and Value Added Tax (VAT) rates of three per cent and five per cent be adopted by the Federal Government for the 2013 – 2015 period, just as it approved the transfer of the Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme (CISS) account to the customs.
However, the Senate rejected the structures being set up by the administration in states, senatorial zones and local government areas under the SURE – P programmes.
The details of SURE – P projects to be executed under the programme, the Senate added, should be attached as an addendum to the appropriation bill for scrutiny and approval of the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, the Senate President David Mark has announced a donation of N22.8million to victims of the recent flood disaster throughout the country.
Senator Mark said the 10 principal officers of the Senate would donate N300, 000 each amounting to N3 million while the remaining 99 senators would donate N19.8million.