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We have not suspended work on PIB, we’ll debate on  it October 20 – Senate

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Lawmakers didn’t receive palliative from NDDC – Senate spokesman…Says Senators to begin discussions on General Principles of 2021 Budget Tuesday Next week

…As Senators Speak on Buhari’s Presentation of 2021 Appropriation Bill

By Henry Umoru

THE Senate said Thursday that it has not any way suspended work on the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB that was transmitted to it for consideration and subsequent passage by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Senate said that it will on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, debate the PIB as it enters second reading.

Disclosing  this yesterday in Abuja before the adjournment of plenary after the presentation of the 2021 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly at a Joint session by President Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan said that early debate on the bill is expected to avert any delay in consideration, resulting from the upper chamber’s decision to suspend plenary for one month to enable Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government defend their respective budgets for the year 2021.

According to Lawan, the critical piece of legislation, after the debate on the floor by lawmakers, would then pass for second reading and be referred to the Joint Committees on Petroleum; and Gas for further legislative work.

The President of the Senate said, “For the PIB, we need to get the document to our Joint Committee before we suspend plenary, otherwise, the document will remain unattended to throughout the time that we would be handling the budget; and that means we can only come back to it around November or December, and that would be late.

“Everybody is waiting for the PIB to be attended to, but we will take sufficient time to work on it because it is a very sensitive document.

“Nevertheless, we should take the debate and Second Reading of the PIB by the upper week, Tuesday 20th, 2020, and refer the document to our Joint Committees on Petroleum (Upstream and Downstream); and Gas.

“So, while we are working on the budget, they can keep work on the PIB warm. We are not going to rush on it since we have the budget before us.

READ ALSO: Breaking: COVID- 19: Senate Closes for 2 Weeks

“Our Joint Committee must do everything possible for us to have a document or report that we would work with in the Senate and something that Nigerians and investors will be happy with.”

Also addressing Journalists yesterday, Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru, All Progressives Congress, APC, Osun Central said, “Reuters sent a request that PiB Senate said it is suspending work on the bill till next year because of the budget, this is not true,

“The Senate is committed to also expeditious passage of the bill because it is central even to the realisation of revenue and putting our oil in competitive international market.

“On the 20th of Oct the bill will enter second reading after which it will be sent to the relevant committee of the Senate, that is committee on upstream downstream sector so that work is being done on the 2021 appropriation, work will be done at the same time on the bill.”

Recall that the PIB scaled first reading in the Senate last week, an indication that the Senate has begun work on the Bill.

Also recall that the leadership of the National Assembly, had penultimate week,  pledged to accelerate legislative action on the Petroleum Industry Bill submitted by the President Muhammadu Buhari  two weeks ago.

The leadership of the National Assembly had also said  that the ninth Assembly will break the jinx of not being able to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill after several attempts.

The National Assembly had however, vowed to ensure thoroughness in its consideration, which according to the principal officers, would be treated simultaneously with the 2021 national budget.

The President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, stated this during a National Assembly joint leadership meeting on the PIB, with the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timpre Sylva.

The two Presiding officers had assured Nigerians that the time had come for the passage of the bill.

Speaking further, Senator Basiru who disclosed that work will start on the 2021 Appropriation Bill that was presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari next week, with copies of the budget made available to the Senators, said, “we will make sure that copies of the presented budget are made available to senators latest by Monday so on Tuesday 23, the senators with take turns to discuss the principle of the budget and make their views and comments known publicly before it is sent to the relevant committee under  the coordination of appropriation.”

Meanwhile, Senator Smart Adeyemi, APC, Kogi West has hailed President Buhari’s move to complete on-going  projects as contained the 2021 Budget speech.

Adeyemi who  was reacting to the presentation  of the 2021 budget  estimates  by Buhari  to the joint  session of National Assembly, said that the President’s focus to complete  all on-going  projects  was fantastic.

The Senator who   noted that Buhari’s decision not to initiate  new projects, until ongoing  projects  were  completed  was uncommon  attributes not associated  with a an average  Nigerian  politician, said, “A topical  Nigerian politician will not  be thinking  of completing  ongoing  projects, they  will be thinking  of new  projects.

” If these  projects  are  completed and we network  the north,south,west and east  of the country, there will be boom on economic  activities.

” Because  the economists  are  telling  us that  next  year  may not  be  too friendly  economically  and  it is a global  problem.

“We may not feel the pain as much, because  the policies  that  are  required as a cushion  for   a global  economy  recession is already  put  on black  and  white  for people  to know that  the government  was conscious  of it.

“The prayer  is that  let  them implement all that  they  have  said and  in terms  of the policies, doin’t  look at  the money, don’t look at  the figure, look at the policy put  in place  to garvanise the economic activities of the country.

“Once  you  have good road network  in the country, rail system, and other  infrastructural,these are key  to economic  boom.”

On his part, Senator Obinna Ogba, PDP Ebonyi said that  he was happy  President   Muhammadu Buhari directed  that  all Ministers  and  heads of Ministries Departmemts and Agencies (MDAs) must  appear  to defend  their  budgets before  National Assembly.

Ogba who noted that this would  help  eradicate  the reasons why  budgets  are  delayed  for passage, said  that the  executive should  provide  solution about  the challenge  of revenue  generation in the country.

He said, “Not  that  the country  does  not  have  revenue, but  these revenue  go down the drain, what they  account  for  the  country  is not  what  is actually  generated .

“Effort should be made to  transfer  all money  generated, directly  to Federation Account  and when  that  is done, you  will discover  that  the issue  of revenue will not  be a problem  in the country. ”

The Senator who noted that he was surprised  that  the N100 billion  earmark  as zonal  intervention fund  had  remain  the same  over  the years, said, “I am surprised  that  the 100 billion   earmarked  for zonal  interventions  projects for the 2021 budget  estimates  is not  increased.

“It has  always  been like  that, I am surprised  that it is not  increased, that  interventions  fund  need  to be increased.

“Because  what  comes  to my constituency  is N200 million  and  when  you  come  to my constituency you will see the  projects, we did  with  the money.

“In my community, where  I come  from,you  cannot  see Federal Government  projects  apart  from  the constituency  projects.”

On his part, Senator Yusuf Yusuf, APC, Taraba said, “It is a usual routine, but every year we do this but like Mr president has emphasized that this time, is a very challenging budget, very challenging budget for that matter, you know we have a high amount of deficit and then our revenue is not commiserate with our expectation, we have the covid-19 challenge and so many other challenges this time that we have to contend with.

“But I am pleased that  we are all determined by the MDAs, by the national Assembly itself that we are going to work round the clock to make sure we give Nigeria the budget that can be sustained, that can provide better value for the  Nigerian people.”

On Borrowing, Senator Yusuf said, “As an economist, borrowing  is not the issue, it is the use of the money that you borrowed for. If we are going to use the money  just to consume, then it will  be very very challenging, but if we are going yo use the money for the purpose of generating more revenue that means to provide  for projects that are going to generate more revenue, then I think you know, it is worth borrowing, but do  we have option at this point in time, we don’t seem to have the option.

“That is why with the kind of deficit that we have, with the kind of income, there is need to do borrowing so that  we can survive and then work so hard to ensure that what we borrow we meet the terms of the borrowing.”

Vanguard

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