The House of Representatives on Thursday urged the Federal Government to direct the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Ministry of Finance and the National Planning Commission to review the existing monetary policy with a view to developing sustainable lending rates.
The House also resolved to investigate the $17bn crude oil money stolen by foreign companies in connivance with Nigerians.
This is even as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, on Thursday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency address a joint session of the National Assembly over the current recession that the country’s economy has entered.
The Lower chamber passed the resolution for a review of monetary policy following the unanimous adoption of a motion on the`urgent need to address the economic downturn in Nigeria sponsored by Rep. Mukaila Kazim.
Moving the motion, Rep. Kazim said that a review of the country’s monetary policy will foster real sectoral growth and enhance economic development.
He tasked the Federal Government to take urgent steps to resuscitate the comatose public owned utilities in order to create employment, provide raw materials for local producers and preserve scarce foreign exchange.
The lawmaker said that the fall in crude oil prices from over $120 to about $45 per barrel has impacted negatively on revenues available to the government to finance its expenditure.
Commenting on the current lending rate of 14 percent by banks, the House member asserted that the high lending rate was discouraging borrowers, especially the Medium, Small and Micro-Enterprises from making any meaningful economic growth.
Contributing to debate on the motion, Rep. Tajudeen Yusuf (PDP/Kogi) said there was a need to reconcile the prevailing high dollar rate to the local currency, adding that restrictions on forex had crippled the ability of manufacturers to pay for raw and essentials materials to boost local manufacturing.
Meanwhile, the decision of the House to investigate the $17bn crude oil money stolen by foreign companies in connivance with Nigerians followed a motion by Rep. Johnson Agbonayinma, Ikpoba/Okhai, Edo State.
According to the PDP rep, the last administration had in 2013 held a meeting with global oil companies with a view to finding lasting solution to rampant theft of the country’s crude. In attendance at that meeting were the past President, his vice, Governors of Delta, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom with the ministers, the Attorney General of the Federation and Service Chiefs.
He recalled that following resolve from that meeting and at the behest of then President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Molecular Power Systems (Nigeria) Limited was engaged to provide technical data, records of crude oil and liquefied natural gas lifting in the country as obtained from the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC), and landing certificates at global destinations to verify possibilities of non declaration to the Federal government.
It was then discovered that an undeclared crude oil short falls of 57,830,000 of Nigeria crude oil, translating to well over $12bn to the US, over $3bn to China and $839,522,600 to Norway.
Agbonayinma, commenting further, told the House that this was replicated in 51 countries where Nigeria crude oil has been exported.
Rep. Emma Oghene-Egoh, Amuwo Odofi, Lagos State, in his contribution, noted that the motion was timely since the country was presently in recession and every lost money needed to be recovered and ploughed back into the economy.
Speaker Yakubu Dogara, while speaking on the resolve by the House to set up an Ad-Hoc Committee to investigate the matter, noted that the crux of the matter was the hiring of a consultant at the huge cost of $5m, detailing companies that stole the money and the whereabout of the report.
Also on Thursday, Speaker Dogara called on President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency address a joint session of the National Assembly over the current recession that the country’s economy has entered.
The Speaker, who gave the advice in a statement issued in Abuja, said doing so would afford President Buhari the opportunity to inform the joint session of the National Assembly which comprise the Senate and House of Representatives and the Nigerian people on steps and measures the government is taking to take country out of recession.
While commending the President for the recent retreat for members of the federal cabinet, Dogara, noted that the recession calls for wider consultation and concerted effort by all stakeholders since the state of the economy needs urgent attention.
He said: “The recent retreat by Mr President with his cabinet and sundry statutory appointees is most commendable. It is in this regard, that I urge Mr. President to consider holding a joint emergency session of the National Assembly to brief both the Legislature and indeed Nigerians of his plans to pull Nigeria out of recession.”
“This will provide opportunity for all stakeholders to be on the same page and to act in concert for urgent national recovery. It will also further consolidate existing ongoing consultations between the Presidency and the National Assembly on the way forward.We must never miss the opportunity the present travails offers us to launch Nigeria into its rightful destiny and place among the comity of prosperous nations.”
“As representatives of the people we are well acquainted with the alarming state of the citizens’ penury. We will therefore collaborate with the Executive in fine tuning any observed limitations in policy formulation and implementation to ensure speedy delivery of services to our people.”
As a panacea, Dogara said there was a need to immediately take a second look at the pace of budget execution; the spiraling rise of the dollar against the Naira and the multiple exchange rate regimes; the impact of the Treasury Single Account on the economy, investment in infrastructure, tackling unemployment, among others.
“The state of our economy is of urgent and critical importance. That Nigeria has gone into recession is a very worrisome development that calls for emergency measures to be taken. All hands must be on deck to tackle the myriads of problems facing us.” Dogara said.
He further admonished that the present times in the country was no time to score political points but a time for partisanship.
“This is not the time for grandstanding. This is not the time for blame games. The situation and the times call for bold, courageous, enlightened and purposeful leadership. This is a patriotic call to action from all stakeholders and indeed all Nigerians. We must unite as a people to rescue Nigeria from the shackles of poverty, social and economic underdevelopment,” Dogara said in the statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Hassan Turaki.