Buhari May Delay Assent to NTC Bill

Muhammadu Buhari

Eromosele Abiodun

Following disagreement among stakeholders, President Muhammadu Buhari may not be disposed to assent to the National Transport Commission (NTC) Bill passed by the   Senate last year, THISDAY findings have revealed.

Sources told THISDAY that the NTC bill may have to wait   as some areas of disagreement among stakeholders connected with the bill have not been tied up.

The NTC Bill and Federal Roads Authority (Establishment) Bill 2018 were among   some of the bills which the Senate had last year passed to the President for assent.

However, the bills, including the NTC Bill were returned to the National Assembly by the President over issues of technicalities and use of language that would bother on overlap of functions with other agencies if signed into law.

THISDAY gathered that officials of the Transport Ministry and counterparts in the aviation industry, among other undisclosed interest groups   have not been able to resolve critical areas of conflict and provisions that are to be delineated and streamlined.

It was gathered that based on this, the President was advised not to assent the Bill yet.

The Secretary to the Federal Government, Mr Boss Mustapha, had late last year given hope on the NTC Bill when he said tthe Executive arm of government was committed to playing its role in the passage of the bill into law.

However, the NTC Bill appears to have taken the shape of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) which process started in 2008 and passed last year, but which assent was turned down by the President.

Similarly, the process of passing the NTC Bill started about 10 years ago before it was passed by the Senate last year.

Reacting to enquiries on the matter, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Mr Hassan Bello, said the federal government was in a better position to determine which bill to pass or not.

Bello said the federal government would have consulted widely before taking a position on what to do in respect of the NTC Bill.

Noting that the present   government is one which believes in process and procedure, Bello said government   considers a lot of issues before a bill is assented.

Arguing that the present government is always pointing to an economic direction for the good of the country, Bello added that   whatever it decides remains for the best interest of the country.

Bello said, “the federal government is in a better position to determine which bill to pass or not. The NTC Bill is not an exception. Government has a broader perspective.

“Government has a wider network to assess a bill. It is important that this government particularly is meticulous. It is a government of process and procedure. It is a government of law.

“So, if the government thinks that the NTC bill may not be passed, then that is a superior argument. Government always considers a lot of issues before signing a bill and I am sure there was a wider consultation on this issue.

“Don’t forget that this bill is an industry bill. It is not just a bill for the Nigerian Shippers Council.

“It is a bill that concerns wider ministries, Ministry of Finance, Transport, Aviation and so many other sectors because it is a multi-sectoral bill. So, it is not just about NSC, it is about the industry, about the country.

“This is a government that is pointing to an economic direction for the country. Government is going to talk about the cost of doing business, government talks about the size of government itself and so many other factors that come into consideration. “So, if a superior argument has emerged to say that NTC bill should be withheld pending passage of time or may be substituted by a review of NSC Act, then that is coming from a sound perspective.”

On his part, a maritime lawyer, Mr Kasarachi Opara, said there was need for stakeholders to move fast in resolving areas of disagreement in the NTC Bill.

Opara, said stakeholders in both maritime and aviation sectors should be able to identify critical areas of conflict in the NTC bill and resolve them so that the President will have a second look on assenting to the bill.

Halt Foreign Borrowing, Improve Tax Revenue, Moghalu Tells FG

Obinna Chima

The Founder/President, Institute for Governance and Economic Transformation, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, has advised the federal government to establish a moratorium on foreign borrowing and develop measures to improve tax revenue.

Moghalu, who was the Presidential Candidate in the Young Progressive Party in the 2019 election, made the recommendation in a statement titled: “Beyond Minimum Wage: The Limits of Populism and the Need for Fundamental Economic Reforms,” to mark the recently celebrated 2019 Workers’ Day.

In addition, Moghalu who called for the removal of fuel subsidy in the country, advised the federal government to develop and establish, in consultation with labour unions, a set of policies to mitigate the likely short-term inflationary impact and to permanently end such subsides as from the budget for 2020.

Also, he recommended the deregulation of the importation and sale of petrol in order to produce a market-determined price of petrol and mitigate adverse inflationary effects in the medium term.

“The federal government should establish a moratorium on foreign borrowing alongside measures to improve taxation revenue.

“FGN should commence a progressive reduction of recurrent expenditure by 10 per cent every budget year from 2020.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should abolish differential exchange rates and establish a uniform exchange rate for all transactions.

“The CBN should abolish the ban on provision of foreign exchange for the importation of most or all of the 40 items denied forex; prior to this action the Federal Ministries of Finance and Industries, Trade and Investment should establish appropriate tariffs for the imports of luxury and non-essential items while creating policy to give reasonable advantages for locally manufactured goods, including enhanced export incentives, in order to realign the Nigerian economy towards competitive manufacturing for domestic and export markets,” the former CBN Deputy Governor said.

Furthermore, he urged the federal government to submit an Executive Bill for the abolition of the Land Use Act; stating that according to a study by PwC, this legislation and policy action would liberate hundreds of billions of dollars of “dead” capital (potential but suppressed financial values in land and property-related transactions) that could lift off the Nigerian economy.

He also called for the strengthening of the policy environment to encourage mass production of innovation and a pipeline of products of innovation into commercial markets.

“As from 2020 turn the N500 billion budget for the Social Investment Programs into a one-time equity contribution to a public-private venture capital fund of N1 trillion for innovation and small scale entrepreneurship aimed at helping the poor and unemployed escape poverty by creating wealth and inclusive economic growth.

“The venture capital fund should be managed by the private sector, which will bring in the other N500 billion in capital. “This reform will bring in equity capital into the lower strata of the Nigerian economy, complementing efforts by the CBN, such as the establishment of National Microfinance Bank that will lend at single-digit rates, to improve affordable access to credit.

It will also contribute to bringing in the informal sector, which contributes about 65 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP, into the formal economy and thus expand the tax net. It will also create millions of new jobs for unemployed or under-employed youth,” he added.