Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to look elsewhere for the immediate solutions to current economic hardship.
As a way out, he said Buhari should look into the disposal of state assets.
The Senate President, who spoke when he chaired the first sitting of the Red Chamber after a two-month break, observed that the President must immediately put in place a platform that will engage the private sector. According to him, the platform must be pro-business and shows that government is ready to partner the private sector towards economic revival.
Saraki noted: “The executive must immediately put in place leadership-level engagement platform with the private sector. This must be one that is pro-business and shows unequivocally that government is ready to partner the private sector towards economic revival. This is a critical signpost towards market confidence which is a key ingredient to help us revamp the economy.
Saraki also supported a call by President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote that government should sell off assets to raise capital to shore up the foreign reserves. He said such a move will calm the investors and discourage currency speculation
“The executive must raise capital from asset sales and other sources to shore up foreign reserves. This will calm investors, discourage currency speculation and stabilise the economy. The measures should include part sale of NLNG Holdings; reduction of government share in upstream oil joint venture operations; sale of government stake in financial institutions e.g. Africa Finance Corporation; and the privatisation and concession of major/regional airports and refineries.
On the need to review the current monetary policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Saraki said: “The executive and CBN must agree on a policy of monetary easing to stimulate the economy and harmonise monetary and fiscal policy until economic recovery is attained. We must ensure local government borrowing does not crowd out credit for the private sector.
He expressed worry over the deteriorating security in Niger Delta and how it has impacted negatively on oil exports.
“The executive is urged to engage in meaningful dialogue with those aggrieved in Niger Delta and avoid an escalation of the conflict in the region. The National Assembly is very ready to play any role in the process and offer ideas on approaches that would deliver quick win-win to move the region and the economy forward.
“The executive must, as a deliberate response, consider immediate release of funds to ensure the implementation of the budget for the near short term to inject money into the economy.
Meanwhile, the Senate has made few adjustments in its operations. Leader of the Senate, Senator Ali Ndume, who briefed correspondents after plenary, announced that motions will be considered on Tuesdays.
Similarly, he said bills will be read (first and second) on Wednesdays, while Thursdays will be devoted to debates of bills and passage.
Also, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senators in Abuja have resolved to work with President Buhari and All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers to come up with measures that would salvage the economy.
The PDP Senators, had on Monday night, met at the private residence of the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu to take a position on the ay forward, as the pper Chamber commend its second legislative year.
Recall that PDP Senators had on June 22, 2016, announced their withdrawal from backing Buhari over what they described as his witch-hunt of the leadership of the Senate, particularly Saraki and Ekweremadu.