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The National Assembly may reverse the $38 per barrel benchmark approved for the 2016 budget, following the crash in the price of the commodity in the international market, our correspondents have  learnt.

Both chambers of the National Assembly had weeks ago approved the $38 per barrel proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for the 2016 budget.

Our correspondents report that the price of the commodity has been fluctuating between $36 and $37 per barrel in recent days. Yesterday, it was $37.7.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) executives last week projected that the price of the commodity could drop to as low as $20 per barrel in 2016.

Reacting to the crash in the price of the commodity, the Senate leader Ali Ndume said the assembly  would consult widely on it before approving the 2016 budget.

“The tumbling of the oil price is not anybody’s making, it is not the executive problem. It is a worldwide problem. All countries that are involved in crude oil business are affected. So, we are monitoring and observing the reactions of the oil producers’ countries as you know we cannot act in isolation.

“Secondly, this is not the first time that the price of crude will be dwindling, although we have not experience this magnitude in the last 11 years. Therefore, it is not an issue that we will take a decision in isolation, it must be in consultation with other stakeholders,” he said by telephone.

He said they would take final decision on the benchmark after consultation, pledging that their decision would be in the best interest of the country.

He said immediately on resumption on January 12h, they will commence debate on the 2016 budget with debate with experts on various issues in the budget.

“Therefore we will consult widely and response appropriately, whatever we will do we the legislators will be in consultation with the executive and not in divergent. Reviewing the benchmark is part of it but that is not the ultimate because the price can go up anytime. Reviewing the benchmark is one of the options because the situation can change anytime,” he said.

Also speaking on the price crash, the spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Sa’ad Namdas said based on recent statement by minister of state for petroleum Ibe Kachikwu that US would resume buying Nigeria’s crude, all hope was not lost.

He said they could not  be certain about what to do for now but that they would give the trend sometime to see how it would go before they reconvene on January 12.

“All hope is not lost about crude price. The prices may not be as bad as people think since the US will now be buying our crude based on what the minister of state for petroleum said, but notwithstanding, we’ll give it some time to observe what happens,” he said.

Source: Daily Trust