Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Senate wednesday passed through second reading a bill seeking to subject intervention funds disbursed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to appropriation and oversight by the National Assembly.
The bill sponsored by Senator Rose Oko (Cross River North) is titled a bill for an act to amend the CBN Act 2007 to ensure transparency and accountability in the operations of the bank, and subject intervention advances to the approval of the National Assembly and for related matters.
Oko, argued that a lack of appropriation and oversight on the funds, make the disbursements prone to abuse, financial recklessnes which may make the aims of the intervention unrealised.
She listed some of the intervention funds to include N620 billion bailout funds to five banks (Afribank Plc, Intercontinental Bank Plc, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Oceanic Bank and Fin Bank) and various donations to tertiary institutions running into several billions.
She also cited the N300 billion bailout funds to state drawn from $2.1 billion of NLNGâ€™s taxes and dividends to pay salaries, the N2.02 trillion said to have been set aside by the CBN to fund various sectors of the economy namely: the Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme, N200 billion, Power and Aviation Intervention Funds, N300 billion, Real Sector Support Facility, N300 billion, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund, N220 billion and Nigeria Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility, N213 billion.
The disbursements, Oko noted totaled N1.223 trillion.
â€œThe total capital budget of 2016 was N1.8 trillion. If N1.223 trillion was indeed disbursed or intended as intervention, then an amount almost the size of the capital budget was disbursed without appropriation and tracking to know the effectiveness of the intervention in the economy,â€ she said.
â€œIn addition, the CBN is quoted to have said that in 2015, its intervention rose to N899 billion compared to N668 billion in 2014,â€ Oko said.
The lawmaker noted that the equivalent of the CBN in several African countries such as Ghana, Liberia, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa, subject similar intervention funds to direct legislative approval.
â€œWhile these interventions are expected to have economic benefits, notably strengthen the economy through stabilisation process, income distribution, resource allocation, sectorial performance and job creation, its procedural problems and its lack of appropriation and oversight, exposes it to abuse, ineffective implementation and imprudence in its implementation,â€ the lawmaker said.