Confab Committee seeks more roles for Vice President, Deputy Governors

The committee seeks reduction in number of aides to political office holders and part-time lawmaking in all tiers of government.

The National Conference Committee on Economy, Trade and Investment has recommended that the National Planning Commission be converted to Federal Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development with the country’s vice president as its minister.

It also recommended that the deputy governor of each of the 36 states should be its Commissioner of Planning and Economic Development.

The committee chaired by Bola Shagaya, representing Women In Business and Public Services, WINBIZ, said the recommendation if adopted and implemented would ensure “an institutional arrangement for effective plan-budget link.”

According to the 1999 Constitution, the functions of the Nigeria vice president include participation in all cabinet meetings and by statue membership in the National Security Council, the National Defence Council and the Federal Executive Council. He also chairs the National Economic Council, NEC.

The Conference will commence debate on the reports of its 20 Committees on Wednesday.

The Committee also recommended in its 50-page report obtained by PREMIUM TIMES on Monday that the Budget Office of the Federation should be returned to the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development while the Federal Government should submit a bill on National Participatory Development Planning Process to the National Assembly to be enacted into law.

The bill, according to the Committee, should provide for the establishment of Sectorial Policy and Development Deliberation Committees at Federal and State levels under the chairmanship of the Minister/Commissioner of Planning and Economic Development.

The panel also recommended that any excess revenue beyond that in the National Revenue Act be retained in the Federation Account and not distributed by the end of the year; and should be used exclusively to finance capital programme of the next year’s budget.

It noted that though Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, was the largest in Africa and 26th in the world, majority of Nigerians are among the poorest because the economy “does not create enough decent jobs through manufacturing, value addition, arts and crafts and tourism activities.”

It identified the reasons for this to include: poor governance and corruption leading to high cost of governance and high cost of production; weak links between development plans and budgeting at all levels of government; little or no linkage between primary, secondary and service sectors of the economy; poor/inadequate infrastructure especially energy, transportation and water/sanitation; and the inability of Nigeria’s Financial System to provide adequate financial resources to satisfy the economy’s financial needs at affordable cost.

On the Federation Account Allocation Commission, FAAC, the National Conference Committee said government fiscal operation associated with the management of the allocation produce devastating shocks, which adversely affects interest rate determination, exchange rate stability and control of inflation.

“This is because commercial banks who serve as revenue collectors for the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, keep the revenue collected until end of month before it is paid to Central Bank in bulk,” the Committee explained.

It called for the change of the monthly FAAC cycle to weekly so as to remove the volatility associated with wholesome liquidity withdrawal by the NNPC towards the monthly meeting as this adversely affects macroeconomic stability and domestic debt burden.

The Committee lamented the high cost of governance in the country, saying it had negative effect on the utilization of public resources as well as its overall development as a greater portion of the annual budget was always spent on recurrent expenditure with little left for capital expenditure.

According to the panel, the implication was that enough resources were not available for capital projects critical for the amelioration of the infrastructure deficit and provision of key social services.

To address the situation, it said the number of political appointees and aides should be reduced; elected members of the legislative arms of all tiers of government should serve on part-time basis; Ministries, Department and Agencies, MDA, should streamline to avoid duplication of functions and unnecessary cost outlay; and strict compliance with the procurement act in the award of contract to avoid high project costs should be maintained.

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