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Saraki: 30 Governance, Economic Reform Bills Await Senate Debate

Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has said that in a bid to provide adequate legislative instruments to fast-track the necessary change and reforms expected in all critical sectors of the country, 30 Bills to address identified key areas have been submitted by his colleague-Senators and now await Senate’s consideration and passage.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, the Senate President stated this at a meeting with his key aides as part of preparations for the commencement of legislative session in the new year.

He also said the Bills when passed would give backing to necessary reforms in the nation’s security agencies, judiciary, anti-corruption crusade, agriculture, transportation, taxation, poverty eradication and the creation of business-friendly environment for investors, among others.

According to him, among the priority bills now awaiting Senate debate are Police Reform Bill, Justice Reform Bill, Criminal Procedure Law Amendment Bill, Whistleblower Protection Bill, Budget Reform Bill, Ecological Funds Utilization and Management Bill and the Excess Crude Account Management Bill.

Others are: Executive Bodies Independence Protection Law, National Assembly Budget & Research Office Bill, the Institutional Restructuring of the NNPC Bill in place of the PIB, the E-Commerce Protection Law Bill, Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill, Market Competition Bill, Credit Bureau and Referencing Bill, Agricultural Credit and Loan Scheme Bill, Private Sector Infrastructure Investment Protection and Regulation Bill and the Road Sector Reform Bill.

Also included are: The Railway Sector Reform Bill, Ports and Habour Reforms Bill, Regulatory Impact Assessment Bill, Climate Change Bill, Tax and Revenue Las/Bill, Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, The Fertilizer Bill, The Government Performance and Result Act (GPRA) and the National Poverty Eradication Commission (Establishment) Bill.

The Senate President said the priority bills are meant to drastically change the business environment and promote inclusive growth especially in the real sector.

Saraki said: “It is the belief of the National Assembly that diversification of the economy will not happen unless regulatory and legal framework for doing business in Nigeria are substantially reformed and deregulated to allow the private sector participate in the infrastructure market which is a key area for creating jobs and priority national productivity.

“It is a known fact that the economic artery for delivering goods and services in Nigeria has mainly been the road network. But this has been severely limited by the level of degradation and lack of investment. The impact has been increased in carnage, deaths and the penetration of goods to markets has been severely limited.

“With the priority bills being proposed by the National Assembly, private sector participation in railways, road construction and other transport infrastructure that will stimulate job creation will become a reality.

“The penetration of transport infrastructure into the waterways will also be expanded, access to credit will receive a significant boost through the introduction of the modern bankruptcy and insolvency laws which is about to be passed into law and credit referencing/reporting system which will significantly reduce credit risks and therefore lower the cost of borrowing,” he said.

He said that the Bills are key economic reform instrument that will stimulate employment, significantly raise national productivity and also see the government paying particular attention on other pressing public services while public funds will be freed up to achieve greater efficiency in the governance system.

Saraki further stated that other critical areas the priority bills are targeted at will include market regulatory reforms through the Market Competition Bill, Agricultural Credit and Loan Scheme Bill and the Climate Change Bill.

He said: “Other areas the National Assembly is placing priority include Governance Reforms by seeking to introduce Bills that would increase government performance, and citizens monitoring and evaluation of government actions. In this wise, the National Assembly is introducing the Government Performance Results Bill.

“The National Assembly for the first time, through these watershed legislations, is establishing a framework for agencies of government to set goals, measure performance and submit related plans and reports to the National Assembly for its potential use.

“Therefore, agencies of government will be required to post on a dedicated website, all contracts awarded, terms of these contracts and beneficiaries of these contracts. The introduction of the Public Procurement Act in 2007 was essentially to reduce the opaque and fragmented system of our public procurement practice.

“However, the operation of the Public Procurement Act from 2007 has exposed weaknesses in the Act which now must be reviewed in order to make it more efficient. Also as part of the Economic Reform Agenda of the 8th Senate, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) will be enacted to reform the Nigerian oil and gas industry to comply with international best practice and standards,” he said.

The Senate President added that other bills on governance reforms will include the Ecological Fund Utilization and Management Bill and the Whistleblower Protection Bill.

He said: “These are all geared towards increasing the integrity of governance, openness and accountability. The National Assembly is also paying attention to the reform of our security and judicial systems as it is making priority the reform of the Police through the Police Act (Repeal and Reenactment) Bill and the Justice Sector Reform Bill.

“The National Poverty Eradication Commission Bill is another institutional intervention mechanism by the legislature in seeking to strengthen the policy by the executive arm on the welfare of Nigerians and the eradication of extreme poverty,” he said.

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