From around $114 months back, the prices of crude have dropped far below $100 per barrel lately, raising concerns of a possible negative impact on Nigeria’s monolithic economy.
Amid the free fall of the prices of the commodity, the Federal Government last week forwarded the 2015-2017 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper to the National Assembly.
The government pegged the crude oil benchmark for the 2015 budget at $78 per barrel, a proposal that was slightly above the 2014 benchmark of $77.5.
Findings showed that politicians were likely to call for more money to be put in the budget of the election year despite the dip in oil prices.
The House claimed that the $78 was still a safe zone for the budget so long as crude was sold at any figure above it.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, while reacting to the development, said for many years, crude prices had never dropped below $100 per barrel, adding that the latest price fluctuations would soon stabilise.
“There will be no problem for the budget; the crude oil price is still far above the benchmark proposal. There should really be nothing to panic about regarding next year’s budget,” Mohammed stated.
The benchmark has frequently caused a row between the Executive and the National Assembly.
Last year, the two arms of government dragged the issue for months before they finally settled for $77.5 per barrel.
The initial Presidential proposal for the 2014 budget was $74. The Senate passed $76.5, while the House raised it to $79.
The two chambers later agreed on $77.5 after many weeks of delay before passing the budget.
It will be recalled that the Executive grudgingly accepted the new figure, as it feared that a crash in oil price could make implementing the budget impossible.
The legislature, particularly the House, insisted that so long as there were extra dollars above the benchmark price, the budget would not be in danger.