President Muhammadu Buhari has declined his assent to Ajaokuta Steel Company Completion Fund Bill, 2018 on the basis of what he called impropriety of appropriating one billion dollar from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to it.
In a letter to the Senate, which was read at the plenary today, Tuesday, by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, President Buhari said that such request is not the best strategic option for Nigeria at this time of budgetary constraints.
“The nation cannot afford to commit such an amount in the midst of competing priorities with long term social and economic impact that the funds can be alternatively deployed.
“Bills seeking to make appropriation of revenues to fund public expenditure should be consolidated in the annual Appropriation Act.
“Such that these proposals pass through the traditional scrutiny that budget proposals are subjected to by the Ministries of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the National Assembly.
“Furthermore, as the Excess Crude Account Funds belong to the Federation, it would be proper to consult with the National Economic Council where the states are represented.
”Relevant stakeholders such as the Ministries of Mines and Steel Development, Industry, Trade and Investment were not fully consulted.
“The inputs of key stakeholders are necessary to create the optimal legal and regulatory framework as well as institutional mechanism to adequately regulate the steel sector.”
In another letter dated March 27 and denying assent to the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency Bill, 2018, the President cited Section 32 of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency Bill 2018 as one of the reasons for refusing assent.
“Section 32 of the bill, introduces a two and half per cent levy on the profit before tax of the target companies which will increase the tax burdens of the companies while offering no direct benefit to them.
“A one per cent levy on imports, which will also add to the cost of doing business in the country.
“A five per cent levy on luxury goods, which duplicates efforts by the Federal Ministry of Finance to raise excise on such goods in a more sustainable manner to the benefit of the Federal Government treasury.”
The letter said that if signed into law, the agency would have similar objectives to the Bank of Industry (BOI) particularly with regard to the funding of Small and Medium Enterprises.
Other bills Buhari declined assents to are the Nigerian Aeronautical Search and Rescue Bill 2018, Chartered Institute of Training and Development of Nigeria (Establishment) Bill 2018 and Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria Bill 2018.
Others are the National Housing Fund Bill 2018, National Institute of Credit Administration Bill 2018 and National Bio- Technology Development Agency Bill 2018.