* To fast track passage of PIB
By Deji Elumoye
The ninth National Assembly has attracted revenue to the tune of N320 billion to the Executive through appropriate legislative interventions in the last one year, spokesman of the Senate, Senator Ajibola Basiru, has said.
Basiru, who gave an assessment of the ninth National Assembly since its inauguration on July 11, 2019, also expressed the readiness of the Assembly to fast track the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) once presented before it by the Executive.
In a statement issued on Friday entitled “The Ninth Senate and the one year after”, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs stressed that the legislative arm within one year has been able to make required interventions on the nation’s economy resulting into new windows of revenues estimated at about N320 billion annually.
He specifically mentioned the laudable and progressive intervention of the National Assembly on the extensive work done on the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract (Amendment) Act 2019 (Act) to repeal and replace Section 16 of the Act which culminated in the additional N320 billion revenue accruing to the purse of the federal government.
He said: “A statutory mandate to review the Act was never complied with for decades and the country lost valuable revenue. Thus, the amendment passed by this Senate achieved four major milestones which are:
It revised upwardly the regime of royalty payable on crude produced in deep waters.
“It deleted Section 16 of the Act which provided for the trigger for a review of the Act. It introduced Section 16(A) which mandated the Minister of Petroleum to cause the NNPC to under a review of Production Sharing Contracts every eight years. It introduced Section 16(B) which provided for offences and penalties.
“The cumulative effect of this amendment is that the sum of N320 billion has been unlocked according to several reputable industry experts and it goes without saying that the injection of such huge revenue into our economy will catalyse several positive outcomes.”
Basiru added that in the area of legislative interventions for good governance, the Senate and by extension, the National Assembly, had enacted new laws and/or modified existing legislations for the attainment of good governance.
According to him, one of such interventions was the amendment of Finance Act 2019.
According to him, “Perturbed by dwindling national revenues largely due to vulnerabilities in international price of crude oil, it took steps towards improving revenues from other avenues notably Value Added Tax (VAT).
“Accordingly, it passed an Executive Bill which proposed an increase in VAT from 5% to 7.5% in record time by invoking its powers under Order 79(1) of the Senate Standing Rules. This was an extraordinary step to take.”
He also stated that in the light of equipping the executive with required legislation in getting maximum return from the oil industry, the ninth Senate is committed to prompt consideration and passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill once same is received from the executive.
In special areas of concern, the Senate spokesman declared that the ninth Senate has consistently acted proactively when required in the last one year.
For instance, according to him, when Covid-19 struck in Nigeria with Nigeria’s index case recorded on February 27, 2020, the Senate moved quickly to provide the necessary support for the government.
“It facilitated the prompt release of funds to address the needs of front line health workers. The Senate also announced a contribution of half of the salaries of all 109 senators henceforth to the government as its financial support to battling the unprecedented health challenge,” he said.
The spokesman said that only 104 out of the total 109 senators are practically serving presently since three are dead and yet to be replaced by way of bye elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and two other ones, moved to occupy the governorship and deputy governorship positions of Bayelsa State in February this year, courtesy of Supreme Court judgment.
Basiru, who chronicled the milestones attained by the ninth Senate within the last one year, attributed them to the legislative agenda earlier set at the beginning in June last year.
According to him, “The agenda titled: “A National Assembly that Works for Nigeria”, has to a very great extent, been serving as the compass and guiding principle legislatively and interventionally for both chambers of the National Assembly upon which constructive collaborations between them have been activated on national issues with required urgent solutions at different times for the benefits of Nigeria and Nigerians.