By Onyedi Ojiabor, Assistant Editor and Sanni Onogu, Abuja
SENATORS yesterday took one more step forward in their quest to wrest some powers from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
A Bill seeking to compel the CBN to submit its yearly budget to the National Assembly for approval scaled the second reading.
“A Bill for an Act to amend the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, Cap, C4 LFN, 2007 to compel the bank to submit its annual budget before the National Assembly and for related matters, 2012” was sponsored by Senator Ita Enang, (Akwa Ibom North East).
The CBN, relying on its Act, which gives its board the power to approve its budget, has refused to submit its annual proposals to the National Assembly. This, insist the lawmakers, is wrong.
Enang said the CBN Act was signed into law on May 25, 2007 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. It gives power to the CBN Board in Section 6 (3) (a) to consider and approve the bank’s annual budget.
He noted that on July 30, 2007, the Fiscal Responsibility Act was signed by President Umaru Yar’Adua. It provides that the listed agencies, including the CBN, should submit their budgets to the National Assembly.
Enang said: “This law is later in time and, therefore, supercedes any provision of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act.
“But the CBN has relied on the provision in Section 6 (3) (a) of the CBN Act to refuse to submit its budget to the National Assembly for consideration and approval, hence this Bill.”
Enang said that the purpose of the Bill is to delete the provision of Section 6 (3) (a) of the CBN Act and ensure that the legislature, which budgets for the nation, is abreast of the volume of money available to and released for economic activities by all persons, institutions and agencies.
He noted that it is necessary for the National Assembly to know the quantum of monies released “because it is not only the funds appropriated by the National Assembly that determine inflation or otherwise, but monies released by the CBN and other agencies, such as listed in the Fiscal Responsibility Act and this was the essence of the Act.”
He noted that “in budgeting, the Assembly will determine the revenue profile of the Central Bank of Nigeria (funding sources and items), expenditure items of previous years, expenditure on items of the nature, amount of money for her regulatory purposes e.g. funds for Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), National Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), interest charged on organs and bodies to which it provides services and application of same, recovery of monies given out to AMCON and tenor, capital expenditure ratio to recurrent; personnel cost and sundry implications, thus guaranteeing true fiscal responsibility in the tenor of the enabling Act.”
He said that passing the Bill will ensure that corporate social responsibility obligations are executed within the powers granted by the Act.
According to him, the CBN authorities claim that by Section 6 (3) of the CBN Act 2007, the National Assembly is deemed to have cededits authorisation powers under Section 80 (3) of the Constitution as it relates to the budget of the CBN to the board of the apex bank.
Enang said: “This position is an affront on the law. It is only by submitting the budget of the Central Bank of Nigeria to the National Assembly for consideration and passage that we can ensure that the CBN is limited to the things that are prescribed for it to carry out by law and does not delve into illegalities and prohibited activities.
Most of the senators, including Abdul Ningi, Ahmed Makarfi, James Manager, George Sekibo and Victor Lar, supported the Bill.
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