The House of Representatives Tuesday concurred with the Senate in the passage of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) Bill into law.
The legislation, which had earlier been passed by the Upper Chamber of the parliament, was simply read on the floor and lawmakers affirmed by voice vote that it be passed into law without further deliberations since the other chamber had done a good job on it.
Reacting to the passage of the bill, Finance Minister Olusegun Aganga said: “With the NSIA, Nigeria will be able to reduce its longer term dependency on oil by investing its oil revenues on an ongoing basis in infrastructure and other economic development projects that will help transform Nigeria into a vibrant and diversified economy.
“Our oil wealth is a tremendous blessing. But while high oil prices can bring much needed revenue to Nigeria to finance growth and development, it also brings many risks, especially due to its inherent volatility and the impact that boom and bust revenue cycles can have on inflation, fiscal planning, and budgetary prudence.
The NSIA will help Nigeria mitigate these risks in the same way that sovereign wealth funds are now a fundamental component of macroeconomic wealth management by natural-resource-rich countries around the world,” he added.
Meanwhile, the House also Tuesday moved against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over its new policy statement pegging deposit and withdrawal of money by bank customers to N150,000 per transaction for individuals and N500,000 for corporate bodies effective June 1, 2012.
The lawmakers urged the Federal government to prevail on CBN to suspend the policy because Nigeria was not ready for such policy.
In the alternative, it said, the CBN must embark on a massive enlightenment campaign to sensitise the banking public before such a policy could be introduced in the country.
The objection to the policy was sequel to a motion moved by Hon Jumoke Thomas-Okoya condemning the apex bank over the policy, which she said, was hastily introduced without due consideration to the peculiar situation of the country.
In the motion, Okoya-Thomas argued that if this policy was implemented successfully, small scale businesses would automatically collapse, agro allied businesses would remain stagnant while the banking sector itself would completely suffer low patronage. “I urge the executive to stop this policy or alternately raise the bar to a reasonable sum. Cattle sellers, petty traders, butchers and market women should be taken into consideration before this policy could be implemented in the country. When people refuse to patronise banks, crime will be on the increase and the same people will suffer,” she said.
Also yesterday, the lower chamber of the parliament adopted the open secret ballot as the formula to be used in the election of the Speaker and other principal officers when the seventh session of the parliament will be inaugurated in June.