The House of Representatives has urged the Federal Government to direct its finance and planning agencies to review existing monetary policies with a view to developing sustainable lending rates.
The house specifically asked the government to give the directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Budget and National Planning.
The call was sequel to a unanimous adoption of a motion on ‘Urgent Need to Address the Economic Downturn in Nigeria’ by Mukaila Kazim.
Moving the motion, Kazim said that a review of the country’s monetary policy will foster real sector growth and enhance economic development.
He stressed the need for the Federal Government to take urgent steps to resuscitate the comatose government-owned industries.
He said that the step would help to create employment, provide raw materials for local producers and preserve scarce foreign exchange.
Kazim noted that the fall of oil price from over 120 dollars per barrel to about 45 dollars per barrel had impacted negatively on revenue available to finance expenditure.
He explained that the current bank lending rate of 14 per cent was discouraging borrowing, especially by Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises, and impeding meaningful economic growth.
Contributing, Rep. Tajudeen Yusuf (PDP-Kogi) said that there was a need to reconcile dollar-naira relationship in the country’s foreign exchange dealings.
He said that restrictions on foreign exchange transactions crippled the ability of manufacturers to pay for materials to boost local manufacturing.
Rep. Haruna Goni (Yobe-APC) called for sustained activities to return to agriculture, saying it was the mainstay of the economy.
He also called for review of land policies and lending rate to boost agriculture as a way out of the recession.
He said, “There is also need for timely supply of agricultural materials like seeds, fertilisers and equipment if diversification into agriculture will be actualised.”
However, the House Minority Leader, Rep. Leo Ogor (PDP-Delta), said that Nigeria was paying lip service to diversification campaign.
He said, “We have been paying lip service to the concept of diversification; our ministers came here and nobody was able to look at the challenges in line with the volume of mineral resources we have.
“Where will we get the level of specialisation from if everybody is interested in the oil? Today, the price of oil has dropped and I think we have vast land for agriculture.
“We have mineral resources in every part of the country but nobody is looking at them because there is lack of specialisation.
“I think the Federal Government has carried responsibility that is not supposed to be.”
Ogor said that there was need for the National Assembly to review the exclusive and legislative lists, and divert some of the powers to the states and local governments to address issues of diversification.
He said that the current economic crisis was man-made, adding that lack of clear-cut policies dragged the country into recession.
Ogor said that inconsistency in policies and loss of confidence in the nation’s economy has led to increase in the rate of outflow of businesses worth more than N4 trillion.
He said, “The major capital cause of this problem is the foreign exchange policy and which was the domiciliary account; there used to be inflow of funds from Nigerians in diaspora and investors.
Bank policies which restricted payment and withdrawal of funds from domiciliary accounts created panic among investors, leading to withdrawal of their money from the country.”
After the debate, the house resolved to set up a committee to liaise with the senate to invite the President Muhammadu Buhari to address a joint session of the National Assembly.
The president is expected to brief the lawmakers on steps the executive was taking to pull the country out of the current economic recession.
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