The Senate has technically okayed the sale of federal assets as part of measures to get out of the current economic recession.
Addressing plenary yesterday, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, observed that Nigerians were tired of excuses under whatever guise, hence the legislature and the executive arm of government must work together in order to arrest the current economic recession in the country.
Accordingly, Saraki, identified nine “needful” measures to be taken by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government in order to demonstrate that it is ready to turn the nation’s economy around for the better.
The number one Senator proffered that the executive must immediately put in place, leadership-level engagement platform with the private sector; the executive must raise capital from asset sales and other sources to shore up foreign reserves, assuring that the step will calm investors, discourage currency speculation and stabilise the economy.
Saraki particularly noted that the measures should include part sale of NLNG Holdings; reduction of government share in upstream oil joint venture operations; sale of government stakes in financial institutions e.g. Africa Finance Corporation; and the privatisation and concession of major/regional airports and refineries.
Other recommendations include that the executive must consider tweaking the pension funds policy within international best practice safeguards to accommodate investment in infrastructure and mortgages.
In his thought-provoking speech, the Senate President noted that though the collapse in oil prices from over $100 per barrel to about $48 recently, meant the Nigerian economy would experience serious challenges, he, however blamed low sovereign savings, which he said, has compounded Nigeria’s situation with Forex Reserves having declined from over $65bn in 2007 to about $30bn by 2015.
“The implication of this is that we must do something drastic and quick to restore confidence back into the economy and get people investing and spending again if we are to end the despair in the land.
“I must hasten to add in my own opinion that the executive must begin to take the following needful steps to show Nigerians, the international community and investors, both local and international, that we are ready to reform and do business,” Saraki said.
“The executive and CBN must agree on a policy of monetary easing to stimulate the economy and harmonise monetary and fiscal policy until economic recovery is attained. We must ensure local government borrowing does not crowd out credit for the private sector.
“The executive must re-tool its export promotion policy scheme with export incentives such as the resumption of the Export Expansion Grant (EEG); and introduce export-financing initiatives.”