Recession: National Assembly promises exit strategy
The preparation and processing of the 2017 Budget Bill, devising best legislative strategies for exiting the economic recession, as well as, the conclusion of work on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) are key issues that would be given maximum priority upon the resumption of the two chambers of the National Assembly next week.
To take Nigeria out of its present economic predicament, the National Assembly, which has rescheduled its resumption from the 8-weeks end of session holiday from 13 to 20 of September, 2016, now has a burden of using its constitutional legislative responsibility to effect necessary changes in the economy.
A key assignment awaiting the National Assembly, is the preparation and processing of the 2017 Appropriation Bill.A lawmaker disclosed that the Presidency is expected to submit the 2017 to 2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) before the resumption of the two Houses later this month.
Also, the leadership of each of the chambers, it was further learnt, has put lawmakers on the alert on the need to devise legislative strategies for combating the increasing challenges facing the country’s economy, which have worsened the living conditions of the people.
According to findings, the National Assembly would immediately upon resumption initiate debate in both Houses that would produce legislative actions or measures for getting the country out of the recession.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had in August 2016, approved the 2017-2019 MTEF and FSP in which it pegged the crude oil benchmark for the 2017 budget at $42.5.The leadership of the National Assembly, according to sources had already resolved to process the 2017 budget bill in such a manner that would be of great assistance in resolving the economic crisis.
Budget and National Planning Minister, Udoma Udo Udoma had declared that: “Oil price benchmark, we intend to use $42.50 as a reference price in 2017. We are projecting $45 in 2018 and $50 in 2019. So we are keeping to the very conservative in terms of the reference price of crude oil even though we are expecting it to go higher than this but we are keeping to an extremely conservative price scenario.”
Ahead of the resumption, some Senators have spoken on how the Federal Government could take the country out of the economic mess.In an interview, Senate spokesman, Senator Saabi Abdullahi Aliu, hinted that the Senate would upon resumption set out to resolve the contentious issues that had been stalling the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which had been in the National Assembly since 2008.
According to him, “the Senate is already primed because most experts have submitted that we need to do something about the PIB. And because of the sensitivity of the host community relationship and benefit sharing issue, that issue met some brick wall.
“I’m convinced beyond reasonable doubt that by the time we come back from recess, that issue will still get a front burner attention because it’s key to whatever changes we want to see done, going forward on a sustainable basis in the oil and gas industry.”
On the speculated issue of increase in pump price of petrol, Abdullahi berated the former Group Managing Directors (GMDs) for being responsible for the current woes that the country is going through, noting that they do not have the moral standpoint to advice government on what to do because they have a hand in it.
The senator who stressed that the suggestion by the GMDs is a slap on the faces of Nigerians, noted that they ought to have been discrete with it, and insisted that no matter how good their intention was, it is obvious that the leakages they created while in office is responsible for where the country is today.