The National Assembly will pass into law at least 11 of the 45 draft bills awaiting the attention of lawmakers before the end of the year, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said on Tuesday.
Mr. Saraki who was speaking during the policy dialogue plenary session on “Ensuring Legislative Framework for Mae-In-Nigeria” at the ongoing Nigeria Economic Summit (NES#22) event in Abuja, said the 11 bills are those critical for doing business and capable of helping fast-track the push of the country’s economy out of the current recession.
He listed some of the bills to include Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB); National Development Bank of Nigeria (Establishment Bill); Nigerian Ports and Harbours Authority Act (Amendment) Bill; National Road Fund (Establishment) Bill; National Transport Commission Act, 2001 (Amendment) Bill; Warehouse Receipts Act (Amendment) Bill; Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) (Amendment) Bill; Investment and Securities Act (ISA); Customs and Excise Management Act; Federal Competition Bill and National Road Authority Bill.
Speaking specifically on the status of the PIB, Mr. Saraki said the draft document was in the process of being passed, until the recent Niger Delta crisis broke, causing the lawmakers to step down the process.
Passage of the draft Bill, which lapsed in the seveth session of the Assembly, was re-presented at the resumption of the 8th session under the present leadership.
“By now, we should have passed the PIB. But, by the time we were deliberating on it, unfortunately it was the time we had the problems in the Niger Delta, and a lot of the senators from the South South came up and say the timing was not the best. We had to step it down. We are now trying to see how we can bring that back on board for deliberation,” he said.
He explained they did not want to give them the wrong impression the PIB had nothing to address the concerns of Niger Delta communities.
As a result of the current recession in the economy, Mr. Saraki said the lawmakers identified 11 Bills classified critical to accelerate the pace of efforts to push the country out of the economic crisis.
“I did say to the President (Muhammadu Buhari), let us find a forum where we can discuss the private sector and SMEs (small and medium-scale enterprises), we need the kind of environment that would grow SMEs. Most of our laws are currently out-dated. If we work together we can identify and prioritise the ones that are of high priority. We have tried to identify the high priority ones and I think there are 45,” he said.
For the first time, the Senate President said the lawmakers are truly engaging with the private sector, guiding the lawmakers’ actions based on need, and not the case where laws were passed that had no relevance to the lives of businesses.
Expressing confidence the 11 bills would be passed by the end of the year, Mr. Saraki said the Senate would do all to stimulate SMEs and amend the procurement law to make it mandatory for government to buy locally produced goods as a first option.
“If we consider what government spends on goods and services, both consumables and capital expenditure, is close to the region of N2.5 trillion.The point is that until now there was no law to ensure we will patronize local agencies,” he said.