The chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, Senator Uba Sani, says that the Senate led by Senator Ahmad Lawan is on the same page with President Muhammadu Buhari in his bid to revive the economy.
Uba Sani, who represents Kaduna Central Senatorial District in the Red Chamber, told journalists in Abuja, yesterday, that Buhari’s recent constitution of a competent Economic Advisory Council was a clear indication that he remains committed to bequeathing a viable economy to Nigerians.
The lawmaker commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over its recent resolve to implement the cashless policy in the country, noting that the major goal of the policy is to curb corruption, counterfeiting of notes, black economy/parallel economy, money laundering, terrorism and tax evasion.
He said: “The president has just passed a strong message that we need to reinvigorate the economy. We need to grow our economy because its growth means an increase in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“An increase in real GDP means there will be a rise in national output/ expenditure. The benefits of economic growth are huge: they include higher average incomes, which enable consumers, especially the poor to enjoy more goods and services and better standard of living; it also means that there will be lower unemployment.
“And with better output and positive economic growth, firms will employ more workers, create additional jobs, and this will help to reduce public borrowing, increase tax revenues, and with this, the government can spend more on health, education, roads and others,” he explained.
Senator Uba Sani, who was an adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, added that for a developing economy like Nigeria, growth would help the country to tackle poverty.
As a practical expression of the Senate support for Buhari’s economic revitalisation programme and to make good his promise to take millions of Nigerians out of poverty, the Upper House, he said, would fast-track the passage of the 2020 budget.
He said: “Senate President Lawan has changed the old narrative of unduly delay of the passage of the annual budget. Recently, the Senate President stated that the National Assembly was expecting the 2020 budget from the Executive arm of government very soon and that the 9th Assembly would deliberate on the budget and pass it within two months. We will strongly support that.
“If the budget is passed on time, the process would return the country to the annual budget cycle of January to December. The perennial delay in passing the annual budgets in the past, gave a wrong impression that the legislature was either ignorant of its responsibility or intentionally frustrating the efforts of the executive arm to perform. We need to change the wrong perception,’’ Senator Uba Sani added.
The early passage of the budget, he said, would promote economic growth and development, adding that the Nigerian economy depends on government’s budget to function properly and the private sector, particularly, needs to see government’s direction in order to plan and execute their strategies.
He stated that “at macro level, prompt passage of the budget suggests speedy implementation of capital projects. This is critical to the growth of the economy because it has impact on growing the GDP.”
The new legislature-executive rapprochement at the federal level, he said, is salutary and must be utilised in sanitisng the budgetary process to enhance sustainable growth and development.
According to him, “the legislature and executive though independent must work harmoniously to address the myriad of challenges confronting our country. We must synergise to give our people a good budget and see to its prompt and effective implementation.”
On the recent notice by the CBN to implement the cashless policy, the lawmaker said that he had no problem with the policy insofar as it does not worsen the plight of the poor.
”The cashless policy all over the world helps in reducing the inflow of illicit funds. Its major goal is to curb corruption; counterfeiting of notes, black economy/parallel economy, money laundering, funding of acts of terrorism and tax evasion. These are some of the illicit activities of the economy that a cashless economy can curb.
‘’Electronic payments can also easily be tracked and no transactions will thus go unnoticed. And, if the government does notice fraudulent financial behaviour, it can block or freeze accounts – stopping the activity in its tracks’’, he explained.
On security challenges, Senator Uba Sani said that the Senate in line with the vision of Lawan, would work closely with Buhari to address them.
He said that the Senate had recognised the efforts President Buhari in the past four years to confront the issue of insecurity in the country, which he noted, were yielding positive results.
He said: ‘’Security and a sound legal system are critical for sustainable development. Our country has been confronting security challenges of different dimensions. They have definitely taken a toll on our people and our economy.
“We pay a huge price in confronting our security challenges. The huge financial resources we have spent in fighting crimes in the past few years would have helped bolster our social services.
“The Senate is committed and ever ready to support President Buhari in his determination to strengthen security and the legal order, as well as addressing the socioeconomic challenges facing the country,’’ he stated.
Uba Sani urged Nigerians to be patient, as the government was working assiduously to address the country’s challenges.