CSOs Task National Assembly on Swift Passage of Key Fiscal Bills

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

A cluster of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), under the auspices of the Growth Initiative for Transparency (GIFT), has tasked the National Assembly to expedite action on the proposed amendment to rescue Nigeria from its current dire economic and fiscal straits and position the country on the path of sustainable growth and development.

The CSOs also commended the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, for leading the charge to amend the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), 2007.

The GIFT cluster, led by OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative and comprising Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA), HipCity Innovation Centre, CLICE Foundation, and AdvoKC, said it was happy the FRA amendment bill had been introduced officially in plenary and is now awaiting second reading in the House of Representatives.

The GIFT cluster, supported by the Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), said in a statement that “there should be a quick passage of this important bill and subsequent assent by President Bola Tinubu.

It affirmed that responsible debt management, fiscal transparency, and successful fiscal reforms were critical for sustainable development in the current economic environment.

The groups said they believe that by proposing steps to strengthen budgetary restraint and guarantee that government expenditure is in accordance with the nation’s development priorities, the amendment of the FRA will significantly address fiscal indiscipline and rascality in Nigeria’s public finance management.

While regretting that the 9th Assembly failed to pass the bill, the cluster expressed satisfaction that its advocacy efforts and engagements with the House leadership and other policy actors had yielded positive returns.

“The passage of this bill will be a major step toward making Nigeria’s public finance management structure and processes more responsible, accountable, and sustainable,” the statement said.

The GIFT cluster expressed its appreciation to Kalu and other bill co-sponsors, as well as other legislators, government organisations, and development partners, whose cooperative efforts had been crucial in achieving the important milestone.

“As a cluster, we applaud the 10th Assembly for keeping to its promise of ensuring legislative reforms to drive efficiency within government as a vehicle for economic growth and development,” the statement said.

It added that the FRA amendment bill, when passed into law, will ensure long-term macro-economic stability of the national economy, and secure greater accountability and transparency in the fiscal operations within the medium-term fiscal policy framework.

“This bill will also arm the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) to facilitate increased revenue remittances from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), which is paramount considering the debt challenges the country has been plunged into.

“This is consistent with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recommendations that Nigeria enhances its fiscal institutions to improve the nation’s economic resilience,” the CSOs said.

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