Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Senate lists measures to exit economic recession

To
take the country out of economic
recession, the Senate has 14 proposals
for the Executive.
The upper legislative
chamber yesterday said the Executive
arm of government should note that
“when people are desperately hungry,
what they need is leadership with a
clear vision; leadership whose daily
actions reflects the very urgency of the
people’s condition. Therefore, our
response to the current challenge must
be dictated by the urgency of the
hardship that the people suffer on a
daily basis.”
The Senate vowed to invoke its
constitutional powers to facilitate the
country’s early exit from recession in
a manner devoid of political
partisanship.
In a 26-paragraph address read to
senators on resumption from its 62-
day end-of-session recess, Senate
President Abubakar Bukola Saraki
warned the lawmakers against
allowing their political interests to
becloud national interest.
He said: “The Executive must begin to
take the following needful steps to
show Nigerians, the international
community and investors, both local
and foreign, that we are ready to
reform and do business.”According to
him, the Executive must immediately
put in place “leadership-level
engagement platform” with the private
sector. “This must be one that is pro-
business and shows unequivocally that
government is ready to partner the
private sector towards economic
revival. This is a critical signpost
towards market confidence which is a
key ingredient to help us revamp the
economy out of recession.”
The Senate also wants the Executive to
“raise capital from asset sales and
other sources to shore up foreign
reserves”, pointing out that “this will
calm investors, discourage currency
speculation and stabilise the
economy.” The measures should
include part- sale of NLNG Holdings;
reduction of government share in
upstream oil joint venture operations;
sale of government stake in financial
institutions, for example, Africa
Finance Corporation; and the
privatisation and concession of major
airports and refineries.
Also, the Executive and CBN must
agree on a policy of monetary easing
to stimulate the economy and
harmonise monetary and fiscal
policies until economic recovery is
attained. The Executive must re-tool its
export promotion policy scheme with
export incentives such as the
resumption of the Export Expansion
Grant (EEG). The lawmakers want
export-financing initiatives
introduced.
The senators called for meaningful
dialogue with those aggrieved in the
Niger Delta to avoid an escalation of
the crisis in the region, promising to
play any role in the process and offer
ideas on approaches that would
deliver quick win-win in order to
move the region and the economy
forward.
The Executive was advised to consider
an immediate release of funds to
ensure the implementation of the
budget as a way of injecting money
into the economy. The agricultural
sector and the agro-allied businesses
should be directly supported to boost
value addition and job creation.
Also yesterday, members of the House
of Representatives reconvened after a
two-month recess. At about 11:12 a.m.,
Speaker Yakubu Dogara was ushered
into the hallowed chamber of the
House by the sergeant-at-arms. He
briefly exchanged banters with some
of his colleagues before taking his
seat to oversee the affairs of the day.
Dogara who was not expecting rancour
over the “budget padding” issue,
adjourned within 30 minutes of
proceeding to enable the lawmakers to
use the rest of the day to mourn three
of their colleagues who passed on
recently.
Prayers were offered in both Islamic
and Christian ways for the repose of
the souls of the deceased lawmakers.
The speaker, decked in a white agbada
and a cap to match, later called on the
House Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila
to move for the adjournment of
proceedings to today in honour of the
deceased.
The deceased lawmakers include
Adewale Elijah Oluwatayo (Ifako/
Ijaiye: Lagos) and Alex Ike Eze
(Nsukka/Igbo-Eze south:
Enugu).Among lawmakers who
attended the plenary session were the
former chairman of the House
Committee on Appropriation , Dr.
Abdulmumini Jibrin who later briefed
reporters, reiterating his call on
Dogara to step down and pave the way
for the emergence of a speaker pro-
tempore that would order the probe of
the budget padding saga.
Reacting, spokesman of the House , Mr.
Abdulrazak Namdas said: “ Let him
come to the floor of the House and
raise the issue through a motion. This
is not for the newspapers. It is all
about numbers and we would see who
would have his way on the issue.”