Economic Crisis: Stop playing politics with the economy, Senate tells Buhari - EazyFeeds

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Wednesday 21 September 2016

Economic Crisis: Stop playing politics with the economy, Senate tells Buhari

Deeply disturbed by the current level of decay in the nation’s economy, the Senate yester­day asked President Mu­hammadu Buhari to stop playing politics with the economy and deliver Nigerians out of the current hard­ship they face.
The Upper Chamber also enjoined the executive arm of the government to boost the country’s dwindling for­eign reserves by selling some important national assets, including parts of the Ni­geria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Holdings and some other resources.
The Senate vowed that it must ensure strict adherence to the principles of separa­tion of powers and checks and balances while urging its members to shun parti­san politics in addressing the current economic cri­sis in the country and oth­er critical national issues.

It further noted that the time had come for the lawmakers to make lots of sacrifices in the course of supporting the Executive to tackle the economic challenges that have been giving this administration and Nigerians sleepless nights.
These positions were con­tained in the welcome address read on the floor of the Sen­ate by the President of the Sen­ate, Bukola Saraki, to mark the resumption of members from the annual recess and affirmed by Senators present at the ses­sion.
Saraki, in the speech, said that the Executive must begin to take steps to prove to Nige­rians, the international com­munity and investors that Ni­geria was ready to carry out a meaningful economic re­form capable of ending the re­cession and also demonstrate practically that the country was ready to do business.
He lamented that Nigeri­ans were groaning in pains, resulting from the near total collapse of the economy, lead­ing to hunger and starvation across the length and breadth of the country.
He noted that his expe­rience with his constituents during the recess indicated that the people were no long­er interested in who caused the present nosedive of the econ­omy but in a quick solution to their choking predicaments.
His words: “Distinguished colleagues, we cannot afford further distraction and fixa­tion to politics that would not and does not add food on the tables of our people, or add one megawatt of electricity to our grid. Everywhere you go, there is hunger in our land and our people want solutions to their problems.
“I believe we can make the recession we face today the shortest in our history and use the lessons coming out of it to consolidate our develop­ment. But it all starts now, if we all can believe.”
Saraki further tasked the Executive to immediately put in place leadership-level en­gagement platforms with the private sector that would be pro-business and also prove that the government was ready to partner with the private sec­tor towards economic trans­formation.
Marshaling out steps to be taken by the Executive on how to quickly exit the coun­try from the present situation, Saraki said:
“I must hasten to add, in my own opinion, that the Ex­ecutive must begin to take the following needful steps to show Nigerians, the inter­national community and in­vestors, both local and inter­national, that we are ready to reform and do business. These are:
“The Executive must im­mediately put in place lead­ership-level engagement plat­form with the private sector. This must be one that is pro-business and shows unequivo­cally that government is ready to partner with the private sec­tor towards economic reviv­al. This is a critical signpost towards market confidence which is a key ingredient to help us revamp the economy out of recession
“The Executive must raise capital from asset sales and other sources to shore up for­eign reserves. This will calm investors, discourage curren­cy speculation and stabilize the economy.
“The measures should in­clude part sale of NLNG Hold­ings; reduction of government share in upstream oil joint venture operations; sale of government stake in financial institutions e.g. Africa Finance Corporation; and the privati­zation and concession of ma­jor/regional airports and re­fineries.
“The Executive must con­sider tweaking the pension funds policy within inter­national best practice safe­guards to to accommodate in­vestment in infrastructure and mortgages.
“The Executive and CBN must agree on a policy of monetary easing to stimu­late the economy and harmo­nise monetary and fiscal poli­cy until economic recovery is attained. We must ensure lo­cal government borrowing does not crowd out credit for the private sector.
“The Executive must re-tool its export promotion pol­icy scheme with export incen­tives such as the resumption of the Export Expansion Grant (EEG); and introduce export-financing initiatives.
“The Executive is urged to engage in meaningful dialogue with those aggrieved in the Ni­ger Delta and avoid an escala­tion of the conflict in the re­gion. The National Assembly is very ready to play any role in the process and offer ideas on approaches that will deliv­er quick win-win in order to move the region and the econ­omy forward.
“The Executive must as a deliberate response consider immediate release of funds to ensure the implementation of the budget for the near short term to inject money into the economy.
“Similarly, the agricultur­al sector and the agro-allied businesses should be directly supported to boost value ad­dition and job creation.
Saraki regrettably narrat­ed the agonies of Nigerians as witnessed during the just con­cluded recess by the National Assembly members, stressing the need for the present ad­ministration to take urgent and result-oriented steps to tackle the problems. “I recall unforgettably, how one of the women came straight to me with a look of utter despera­tion and all she could mutter out was, “please our Senator, do what you can to put an end to this suffering, it is becoming unbearable.”

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