Budget 2017: Buhari, Saraki Meet Again

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  • Getting economy out of recession tops agenda

Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari and the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, friday met behind closed on the last working day of the year to deliberate on pressing national issue.

Also friday, the president assented to Endangered Species Control of International Trade and Traffic Amendment Act 2016, earlier passed by the National Assembly.

The President of the Senate, who arrived at about noon, also joined Buhari to observe the Jumat prayer at the Villa.

Saraki’s media aide, Yusuf Olaniyonu later told THISDAY that the smooth passage of the 2017 budget and other issues concerning the economy that must be quickly dealt with, topped the agenda of the meeting.

Saraki, who spoke with State House Correspondents on what Nigerians should expect in 2017 from the National Assembly said: “In 2017, our attention will be on the economy because that is really a major issue for us as a country. We want to see some of the economic bills passed, to see that there is greater improvement in the budget process in 2017 and to see that the government implements the budget early.

“Also, one of our pet projects is ‘made in Nigeria products.’ We want to see to it that government continues to support Nigerians in this area, so that the difficult times Nigerians are going through can ease. So, next year is very important to us and I think on the part of National Assembly, we will continue to give our support to ensure that the right things are done.”

On the fall of Sambisa forest, the Senate President said: “it is a great progress from where we were before. If you look at where we were a year and half ago, the challenge we had was for us to capture the place. I think is a great feat. It shows what we can do as a country when we have the commitment, purpose and the leadership required to do that. As we have done that in the North-east, I believe the other issue before us is the fight against corruption, the economy, providing jobs and peace in the Niger Delta.”

On the president signing 17 bills into law, the Senate President said: “it shows in part what we have been able to do in the National Assembly and there are many more bills to come. The President is also responding to them. You are going to see more of that in 2017. For us in the Senate, just in this last three months, we did much more than what we did in the entire year. The National Assembly is settling down and as such, you will see more bills passed to the President for signature.”

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, who also spoke with State House Correspondents, said the bill signed yesterday by Buhari, was one of the ten bills forwarded to him by the National Assembly.

Enang said the President had signed all the bills sent to him.

“The intent of this amendment is to bring the penalty provisions in line with the economic realities and to serve as a deterrent to people trafficking in endangered species because they are the preserves of the country.”

According to him, the Act aimed at discouraging trafficking in endangered species and will encourage the culture of the preservation of endangered species.

He added that with the assent, the President has increased the penalties for violations of the provisions in line with today’s realities.

The president had in November signed eight bills into law which included the Prevention of Crime Amendment Act 2016, the National Crop Varieties and Livestock Breeds (Registration) Amendment Act 2016, Telecommunications and Postal Offences Amendment Act 2016, the National Agricultural Land Development Authority Amendment Act 2016.

Others are the Produce Enforcement of Export Standards Amendment Act 2016, the Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute Amendment Act 2016, Bee Import Control and Management Amendment Act 2016, and Water Resources Amendment Act 2016.

Earlier in the month, the president also signed eight bills into law which are the National Judicial Institute Amendment Act, 2016 and the Advertising Practitioners Registration Amendment Act, 2016.

Others are Utilities Charges Commission Amendment Act, 2016, Quality Surveyors Registration Amendment Act, 2016 and Small and Medium Scale Industries Development Agency Amendment Act, 2016.

Others are Treaty to Establish African Economic Community Relating to Pan African Parliament (Accession and Jurisdiction) Amendment Act, 2016, University of Abuja Amendment Act, 2016 and Chartered Institute of Stock Brokers Amendment Act, 2016.