As part of efforts to save the countryâ€™s
economy from sliding further into recession, President Muhammadu
Buhari will be seeking emergency powers from the National Assembly
to push his planned stimulus for the economy.
According to the Nation, when the National Assembly reconvenes
sometime in September after their vacation, the president will
present an executive bill titled: â€œEmergency
Economic Stabilisation Bill 2016â€.
The bill if passed, will help shore up the value of the naira,
create more jobs, boost of foreign reserves, revive the
manufacturing sector and improving power. The bill is based on
recommendations from the economic team headed by Vice President
Yemi Osinbajo. The team reviewed the various policies so far
introduced and how they have affected the economy.
In the bill, the executive will be asking for President Buhari
to be given sweeping powers to set aside some extant laws and use
executive orders to roll out an economic recovery package within
the next one year.
The bill if passed will give President Buhari power to:
- abridge the procurement process to support stimulus spending on
critical sectors of the economy;
- make orders to favour local contractors/suppliers in contract
- abridge the process of sale or lease of government assets to
- allow virement of budgetary allocation to projects that are
urgent, without going back to the National Assembly.
- amend certain laws, such as the Universal Basic Education
Commission (UBEC) Act, so that states that cannot access their cash
trapped in the accounts of the commission because they cannot meet
the counterpart funding, can do so; and
- to embark on radical reforms in visa issuance at
Nigeriaâ€™s consular offices and on arrival in the
country and to compel some agencies of government like the
Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the National Agency for Foods
Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and others to improve on their
turn around operation time for the benefit of business.
The extant law on procurement does not allow contract award
earlier than six months after decision. Part of this is a mandatory
advertisement of the contract for six weeks. Given the present
economic condition, the economic team found this unacceptable and
is proposing that the time frame for
contractÂ advertisementÂ be reduced.
Although the president has the power to order the sale or
lease of any government asset to raise cash, â€œthe
procedure is cumbersome and longâ€. The draft bill hopes
to ease and quicken the process. Â Sources within the
presidency say as a way of generating revenue, about nine
government assets may be leased or sold which will in turn generate
around $50billion to shore up the nationâ€™s
foreign reserves and the value of the naira against the United
â€œNigeria may be broke at the moment but we
are not a poor country, given our assets and
capability.â€the source said
About N58 billion is trapped in UBECâ€™s
coffers because the states cannot access it as a result of the key
condition, which is the payment of 50 per cent counterpart funding.
The government is seeking an amendment to the law so that states
will pay only 10 per cent as counterpart funding.Â The
objective is that state governments will have access to cash to
develop education. This will facilitate creation of jobs since
contracts will be awarded for the projects.
Regarding contract awards, the government by the provisions of
the law, cannot mobilise contractors with more than 15 per cent of
contract sum. This is considered to be undesirable by the economic
team given the pace the government wants to move in turning the
economy around and in the provision of critical infrastructure. The
bill will seek to allow the government to mobilise contractors with
50 per cent of contract sum.Â The move to get government
agencies to fast tract their operations is to enable foreign
investors to come into the country without the current
Part of the recommendations by the new economic bill is that
Nigeriaâ€™s Consular offices will now be expected
to make visas availableÂ within 48
hoursÂ and visitors, especially tourists
who intend to pick up visas at the entry point, will be able to do
so.Â Time wasting at the airport with duplication of
agencies screening incoming passengers is to be eliminated. Those
leaving the country should go without hassle.
For the power sector, the government plans to truck gas from
source to the power plants to enable them get what they need for
â€œThis may be more expensive but it is a
price to be paid for Nigeriansâ€™
It was learnt that President Buhari will engage the leadership
of the National Assembly before their resumption to solicit support
for the billâ€™s quick passage.