In a bid to find quick solutions to the economic recession in the country, the Senate yesterday commenced debate on the issue, with Senate President Bukola Saraki presenting a 14-point plan to the federal government on how to make the crisis the shortest ever in history.
The Senate’s roadmap out of the recession was contained in Saraki’s speech to welcome his colleagues back from their annual vacation.
Going by the importance attached to finding urgent solutions to the recession, the Senate plenary commenced at 10.10 a.m. after the presiding and principal officers of the Senate filed into the chamber.
The recommendations by Saraki, which will form the basis for an elaborate debate today by his colleagues include:
• The executive must immediately put in place leadership-level engagement platform with the private sector.
• Government must raise capital from asset sales and other sources to shore up foreign reserves.
• Consider tweaking the pension funds policy within international best practice safeguards to accommodate investment in infrastructure and mortgages.
• The federal government and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) must agree on a policy of monetary easing to stimulate the economy and harmonise monetary and fiscal policies until economic recovery is attained.
• Re-tool its export promotion policy scheme with incentives such as the resumption of the Export Expansion Grant (EEG), and introduce export-financing initiatives.
• Engage in meaningful dialogue with those aggrieved in the Niger Delta and avoid an escalation of the conflict in the region.
• Consider the immediate release of funds to ensure the implementation of the budget for the near short term to inject money into the economy.
• Similarly, the agricultural sector and agro-allied businesses should be directly supported to boost value addition and jobs creation.
• While government works on the medium to long-term plans, immediate strategies must be devised that would ease the suffering of the ordinary people across the country.
• The legislature and executive must co-operate to ensure the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law as soon as possible to stimulate new investment and boost oil revenue.
Saraki added that while the executive is working on the recommendations enumerated above, the National Assembly should support it with the necessary legislations and oversight activities such as:
• Accelerate bills aimed at reforming the mortgage sub-sector for growth and accessibility in a manner that deepens people’s access to housing, jobs and economic activities.
• Work on the National Development Bank of Nigeria (Establishment) Bill 2015 which will provide long term cheaper source of funds to the private sector.
• Quickly commence work on the amendment of the Nigerian Ports and Harbours Authority Act (Amendment) Bill 2016; National Road Fund (Establishment, etc); National Transport Commission Act 2001; Warehouse Receipts Act Bill 2016; Review of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), Investment and Securities Act (ISA) and Customs and Excise Management Act; Federal Competition Bill 2016; and the National Road Authority. These bills and some of the other economic reform bills will be considered in the coming days.
• Explore the possibility of backing certain key government policies with legislations that have time limitations. This will help give confidence to investors to go into certain areas of the economy and invest without the fear that such policies will suffer reversals and loss of investment.
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