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Reps Request CBN Budget Proposal For Approval; Probes N1.42T Grant

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ABUJA, November 02, (THEWILL) - The House of Representatives today call on President Goodluck Jonathan to include the statutory budget of the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN] and all revenue earning agencies of government in the 2012 Appropriation proposal as required by the 1999 Constitution and the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.

The call came after it adopted a motion titled “Expenditure of public funds by the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN] and the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria [AMCON] without approval”, sponsored by Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta.

Similarly, the House also mandated its committee on Banking and Currency to conduct an investigative hearing on the sources of funds, expenditures, and intervention of the CBN and the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria [AMCON] in the various areas and in performance of its statutory duties and determine whether or not they conform to the 1999 Constitution.

The Committee is to examine all laws with respect to banking, such as Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act [BOFIA], AMCON and recommend where necessary to bring the laws into conformity with the 1999 constitution.

While presenting the motion, Nkem-Abonta queried the operations of the CBN, accusing it of granting public funds to various entities and sectors without approval of the appropriate authority as enshrined in the 1999 constitution.

He sought to know why the CBN granted public funds to private banks, manufacturers, textile industries, aviation industry, power sector and the entertainment industry totalling N1.420 trillion without due recourse to the parliament which perform oversight functions on the CBN.

According to him, the CBN contrary to its core functions and mandate has reportedly acquired several hectares of land in the Federal Capital Territory [FCT] for the purpose of investing in hospitality and property business, and paid N17 billion for a Nigerian Telecommunications limited [NITEL] property earlier sold for only N1.8 billion among other alleged impunity.

Nkem –Abonta further expressed concern that the CBN injected N620 billion public funds to rescue private banks in 2009, and in 2011 the apex bank, the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation [NDIC] and AMCON injected another N679 billion to recapitalize the same banks without requisite approval of the National Assembly.

“AMCON being a wholly government owned agency announced that it will inject another N821 billion to revive some ailing banks again and has also pledged to inject up to N3 trillion without requisite approval,” the lawmaker stated.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has also expressed its resolve to pass the re-enacted Bank and Other Financial Institutions Act 2011 as it has mandated the House Committee on Rules and Business to circulate the clean copies of the Bill for consideration in the Committee of whole.

The Bill for an Act to Repeal the Banks and other Financial Institutions Act, 2004 and Re-enact the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 2011 and for other matters connected thereto, sponsored by Hon. Betty Apiafi [Rivers] was laid for consideration before the Committee of the Whole on the 27th of July 2010 in the 6th Assembly.

The re-engineered Bill is meant to reform the financial system in Nigeria and put it at par with international best practice.

Recall that the CBN, United Bank of Africa [UBA], First Bank of Nigeria, First City Monument Bank, Skye Bank, The Chartered Institute of Bankers and the Senior Citizens and Elders Forum of Nigeria amongst others had made presentations at a public hearing held by the House Committee on Banking and Currency for the bill during the 6th Assembly.

The CBN Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who spoke at the public hearing had urged the committee to “fast track this bill because in this Bill, there are provisions that will help us in the current reforms that we are carrying out in the Banking sector.”

Apiafi, who brought the Bill for reconsideration on the floor Wednesday via a motion titled: “Reconsideration of outstanding Bill from the proceeding Assembly,” predicated her decision in line with Order XII, Rule 96 of the Standing Rule of the House.

According to Apiafi, the rule states that “the Legislative Business of the House which though completed and laid in the House by a committee of the House, remained undetermined at the end of the Assembly shall be resumed and be proceeded with in the next Assembly in the same manner as if the tenure of the Assembly has not come to an end, if the House resolves in affirmative that such Bills upon being re-gazetted be reconsidered in the Committee of the Whole without being commenced de-novo.”

Deputy Speaker, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha who presided over the plenary said there was need to re-commit the Bill to the Committee of Whole in view of its importance to the financial sector.

The members on the floor unanimously voted that a clean copy of the Bill be circulated and the Bill be considered at the Committee of the Whole.