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Amendment To CBN Act Scales Second Reading

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ABUJA, May 02, (THEWILL) - An amendment (to the CBN Act2007) seeking to reduce the powers of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Wednesday passed through second reading at the Federal House of Representatives.

The amendment is pushing for a bill to prevent the CBN, its governor and other key officials from spending without appropriation by the National Assembly, in addition to the appointment a person other than the CBN governor as chairman of the board of the bank.

The amendment to the CBN Act, which was signed into law in May 2007 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, will remove the governor as chairman of the bank's board, and subject the bank’s expenditure to National Assembly approval.

If signed into law, deputy governors and directors of the bank will all be barred from the board, which will comprise external officials.

Since 1999, CBN’s annual budgets are proposed and approved in secrecy, and this has displeased the National Assembly, which is accustomed to exercising its appropriation powers.

However, the bank’s management has always argued that the law establishing it allows its spending to be approved only by the CBN board — the same board also decides on the wages and emoluments of staff of the bank.

The House is reported to be uncomfortable with the enormity of powers wielded by the board of the bank, headed by Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who is also the chief executive.

Sanusi's recent controversial donations to victims of bomb blasts in Kano sate and in the University of Benin are believed to have contributed to the drive with which the lawmakers are prosecuting the amendment.