Bill to Establish Council on Economic Diversification, Tax Crimes Commission Scaled 2nd Reading in Senate

A bill seeking to establish the Nigerian Council on Economic Diversification has scaled second reading in the Senate.

Nigerian Senate Plenary Session

The piece of legislation entitled: “Nigerian Economic Diversification Bill, 2022”, was sponsored by the Deputy Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (Niger North).

Also passed for second reading is a bill to establish the National Tax Crimes Commission, sponsored by Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia North).

Leading the debate on the general principles of the Nigerian Economic Diversification Bill, Senator Sabi Abdullahi stated that Nigeria’s economic fortunes are tied to oil, which accounts for more than half of the country’s revenue.

According to him, Nigeria’s crude oil proceeds fell by 41.60 percent in the first quarter of 2021 to $6.48 billion from $11.1 billion in the first quarter of 2020.

He explained that, “despite various loans, reforms and policies, millions of Nigerians continue to remain impoverished.”

“Diversification helps to mitigate volatility and provides a more sustainable path for equitable growth and development.

“It is even more crucial now, given the slower global economy and the pressing need in many developing nations to boost revenue”, he said.

Abdullahi explained further that the bill makes for inter-sector synergies among the key sectors of the economy, as well as the creation of a Council to ensure strict implementation of the provisions of the bill when enacted into law.

He said the Board of Council sought to be created would be headed by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He added that Ministers of key sector like solid minerals, trade and investment, agriculture, health, finance, communication and digital economy, science and technology, Governor of the Central Bank, and key stakeholders in the private sector, among others, would be members to ensure that high level policy decisions are not only taken but implemented.

The lawmaker, who underscored the need for the development of capacities, said directorates would also be established with headquarters sites in various states where the activities of a sector are predominant.

The bill after consideration was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on National Planning and Economic Affairs for further work.

The Committee was given four weeks to report back to the Senate.

In a related development, the bill to establish the National Tax Crimes Commission scaled second reading on Wednesday.

Sponsor of the bill, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, said the bill seeks to provide the legal framework to ensure that violations of tax laws are included as criminal offences, and effective sanctions apply in practice.

The bill after consideration was referred by the Senate President to the Committee on Finance to also report back in four weeks.

Similarly, a third bill for an Act to provide the legal framework to establish the Federal Medical Centre Osogbo, Osun State, also passed second reading during plenary.

The bill sponsored by Senator Ajibola Basiru (Osun Central) was referred to the Committee on Health (Secondary and Primary).

The Committee was given four weeks to turn in its report to the chamber in plenary.

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