The Senate has said the $57 crude oil price benchmark it adopted for the 2022 national budget is still subject to a review before the eventual passage of the Appropriation Bill which the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), is expected to submit to the National Assembly before the end of the month.
The current price of the commodity is about $77 per barrel in the international market.
The red chamber had on Wednesday retained the oil benchmark proposed by Buhari in the 2022-2024 Medium Term Expenditure and Fiscal Strategy Paper.
Investigation by our correspondent during the week had revealed that the joint panels, in their report, increased the $57 benchmark proposed by Buhari to $60.
It was learnt that the joint panels, which included Committees on Finance; National Planning; Foreign and Local Debts; Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions; Petroleum Resources (Upstream); Downstream Petroleum Sector and Gas, in the report, listed details of critical areas that the additional $3 increment would be used to address.
The decision of the joint panel was, however, overruled by the leadership of the red chamber, which insisted that the $57 proposed by the President must be retained.
But in an interview with our correspondent, the chairman of the joint committee, Senator Solomon Adeola, said the decision to retain the oil benchmark was arrived at after considering the volatile nature of the oil and gas industry.
He, however, said the $57 oil benchmark could still be reviewed before the fiscal document would be eventually passed if there was further improvement in the global price of the commodity.
He noted that the Senate was aware of the concerns of Nigerians over the need to stop the differential from going into the Excess Crude Account.
He said, “We are being careful because of the volatility of this particular industry. The President has just assented to the Petroleum Industry Bill.
“There was a careful analysis of all the items of what the executive arm of government submitted to us.
“The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries has a production quota. At the moment, Nigeria has the capacity to produce more than the quota given to the country. So, what do we do?
“We cannot go contrary to the oil quota which the OPEC gave us.
“As we proceed during the budget consideration and we see any improvement, there might be need to review the benchmark.
“We need so much money to drive the economy and Nigerians have expressed the need to allow enough money to flow into the budget as against the Excess Crude Account.”