The Chairman Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru on Friday said that the 9th Senate has been proactive in discharging its responsibilities in the last one year.
Basiru in a statement to mark the one year anniversary of the 9th Senate in Abuja, said the upper Chamber helped to create a window for the federal government to realize at least N320billion by amending a relevant oil sector Bill.
He said that the money would help to boost the nations economy when realized.
The Osun Central Senator, said the lawmakers are poised to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), expeditious consideration when it is laid on the floor by the executive.
He added that the serving 104 Senators, are presently donating half of their monthly salaries towards efforts aimed at containing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Basiru in the statement titled: “The 9th Senate and the one year after ” said: “Perturbed by dwindling national revenues largely due to vulnerabilities in international price of crude oil, it took steps towards improving revenues from other avenues notably Value Added Tax (VAT).
“Accordingly, it passed an Executive Bill which proposed an increase in VAT from 5% to 7.5% in record time by invoking its powers under Order 79(1) of the Senate Standing Rules. This was an extraordinary step to take.
“Another laudable and progressive intervention was the extensive work done on the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract (Amendment) Act 2019, to repeal and replace Section 16 of the Act.
“A statutory mandate to review the Act was never complied with for decades and the country lost valuable revenue.
“Thus, the amendment passed by this Senate achieved 4 major milestones which are: It revised upwardly the regime of royalty payable on crude produced in deep waters.
“It deleted Section 16 of the Act which provided for the trigger for a review of the Act. It introduced Section 16(A) which mandated the Minister of Petroleum to cause the NNPC to under a review of Production Sharing Contracts every 8 years. It introduced Section 16(B) which provided for offences and penalties.
“The cumulative effect of this amendment is that the sum of N320 billion has been unlocked according to several reputable industry experts and it goes without saying that the injection of such huge revenue into our economy will catalyse several positive outcomes.”
He added that in the light of equipping the executive with required legislation in getting maximum return from the oil industry, the 9th Senate is committed to prompt consideration and passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill once same is received from the executive.
“The necessary training and sensitisation programmes have been organised and attended by Senators belonging to all the relevant commiittees of the Senate”, he disclosed.
In special areas of concern, the Senate Spokesman declared that the 9th Senate has consistently acted proactively when required in the last one year.
For instance according to him, when Covid-19 struck in Nigeria with our index case recorded on February 27, 2020, the Senate moved quickly to provide the necessary support for the government.
“It facilitated the prompt release of funds to address the needs of frontline health workers.
“It also announced a contribution of half of the salaries of all 109 Senators henceforth to the government as its financial support to battling the unprecedented health challenge.”
But out of the expected 109 Senators, only 104 are serving presently since three died and two other get elected as Governor and Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State in February this year.
Basiru who listed the achievements by the 9th Senate within the last one year, attributed them to the legislative agenda designed and adopted by the upper chamber on assumption of Office.
According to him, the agenda titled : “A National Assembly that Works for Nigeria”, has to a large extent, served as the compass for both Chambers of the National Assembly.”