Senators’ stand on the economy
‘Senate Will Hold Managers Of Economy Accountable’
Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki
Speaking at an interactive press briefing with media correspondents in Ilorin just last Monday, the Senate President said the Senate on resumption will respond to the economic crisis with a number of measures, which include getting managers of the economy to give account to the people, making tough recommendations to the President on needed changes, formulating necessary legislative framework for economic recovery and wide consultations across the private sector.
Saraki said the economy would be the focus of the Senate when it resumes plenary and throughout its remaining session.According to him, “We are going to have an exhaustive and comprehensive debate on fixing the country’s economy. We understand the pains that Nigerians are feeling and we do not take this for granted. “Additionally, the Senate intends to invite everybody involved in the management of the economy to address the Nigerian people through the parliament, on the steps that are being taken, to get us out of this mess. We fully intend to hold all those involved in the economic management of the country accountable – However, we will do so in a manner that is transparent, and there will be no cover-up. We will make tough recommendations as necessary.”
“We need to know why the promises of external borrowing have not materialised, why devaluation has not helped to strengthen the Naira, why inflow of foreign currency has continued to dry up and interest rate is still very high. Doing this will help us to understand where we are, so that we can determine where exactly we want to go from here.
‘We Must Diversify Nigeria’s Sources Of Foreign Earnings’
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, John Enoh
THE Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, John Enoh believes that the solution to the country’s ailing economy would only come, if government is able to diversify the sources of foreign exchange earnings and stop depending only on oil.Enoh made it clear that there are key fundamentals that government was yet to get right. “We have transited from involvement in which there was a steadfastness in terms of having to fix the exchange rate for too long, in terms of our international outlook, it was very negative. We got to a point in which the Central Bank, of course, tried to make it flexible and how many months after that policy the gap is still there. That means there is something wrong and that means there is something that is not being addressed, that means some of the expectations on the part of the policy makers in floating the exchange rate haven’t been met,” he said.
He added that in reducing the continuous slide of the naira at the parallel market, the CBN might have to lift its ban on 41 items delisted from official forex earnings, by their importers last month. A policy he said had led to further weakening of the naira, at the parallel market as a result of heavy demand for forex, by importers of the banned items like cement, rice, margarine, palm oil product / palm kernel etc.
The expectations was that if you float it, it will make it attractive. Isn’t it? That means people with foreign capital are going to bring it in because government alone cannot sustain the market. So far, it is government alone that is providing more than 97% of the foreign exchange that is bided. That is where the problem is. They must close the gap and as long as that remains, there is still going to be a continuing gap between the official rate and the parallel rate and that is where we are. As long as that remains, we are going to discover more demands than supply. That’s primarily elementary economics.
“As long as those who need the dollar far outweigh the supply side of it, that problem will remain. Maybe we have come to a point in which the CBN has to look at those items that they banned, those 41 items.”He reviewed government’s efforts so far in resolving the crisis and submitted, “I don’t want to think that they are frustrated. They are also as equally challenged, as you and I know, that’s because it is their duty to do the work. They are aware of the public expectation.
He said the Senate would resume with a role of addressing the key challenges.
“We resume with our work cut out for us. It requires everybody’s hand to be on deck. This is no time to allow it for any particular individual or set of people. Various ideas will be required to see how to move us beyond the point where we are.”The lawmaker said the government of the day has wasted so much time achieving very little in getting the economy revived, adding that the time for blaming the past administration was over.
According to him, “A Period like this requires government to get to work and take decisions because periods like this affect the common man the most. I think that the government must look at every available avenue to see how to remedy the situation that affects the consumer the most.”The CBN must base its policies on the realities. In a recessionary period such as we have now, we must try to allow more money to be in the hands of the people, but on the other hand there is also the added challenge of how to control it.
‘President Has Enough Powers To Deal With Economic Crisis’
Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Science and Technology, Senator Yusuf Yusuf
The Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Science and Technology, Senator Yusuf Yusuf (APC, Taraba Central) urged President Muhammadu Buhari to shelve the idea of the bill on emergency powers, saying the bill was uncalled for with the numerous powers he already possessed.
He was reacting to alleged plan by the President to seek approval of the National Assembly for emergency economic powers, to tackle the current economic challenges. Yusuf said: “The issue of emergency powers or economic emergency powers is becoming a very controversial issue and I think we need to be cautious about how we handle such matter in the country today.
“I think Mr President has enough powers to do whatever he wants to do. The basic problem is an attitude factor, how we apply the laws, how we respect the laws.“So the question of requesting for economic emergency powers, I don’t think in my opinion should arise.”The lawmaker said in the event that the president was contemplating that, he should shelve the idea and refer to the National Assembly to amend or enact laws that would enable him tackle the challenges.
“Any ad-hoc thing he wants to do should be referred to the National Assembly. I am sure the National Assembly will be ready to assist the President in making sure that all the economic issues he wants to raise or economic policies he wants to make, can be passed into law within a very short time.
“To give Mr. President sweeping powers, I think it is like the National Assembly trying to give out all its powers to Mr. President.He, however, called on the Federal Government to encourage what he called sectorial allocation of credit by banks, adding that banks should be encouraged to move in, because they have a lot of liquidity, which the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is finding difficult to control.
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