By Nuel Suji – President of the Nigerian Senate, Bukola Saraki, on Monday assured the nation’s manufacturers that the National Assembly would do all it takes to ensure maximum patronage for their goods and services by government agencies and Nigerians alike.
Sen. Saraki who spoke while receiving the President of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Dr. Frank Udemba Jacobs, who led other members of the executives of the group on a visit to his office in Abuja, said the Senate will not rest until the country overcomes her present economic hardship occasioned by the recession.
He said apart from the Public Procurement Act which has been amended by the Senate to drastically reduce the time wasted in the process of procurement and award of contracts by the Federal Government, the Senate has also amended the Railways Act and made provision for private investment in the sector.
He added that the National Assembly will continue to enact relevant legislation to fast-track the diversification of the economy by the executive as well as to ensure stability in government’s economic policies.
Saraki, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu in Abuja, said: “We are very concerned about the situation of the economy. It is our primary focus for the next few months and I am sure with the support of everybody, we will get the country out of it.
“We will do whatever is necessary to find solution to the crisis because Nigeria comes first. We are not afraid to say what we have to say. Where we find ourselves today, we cannot continue to apportion blames but to search for solutions. And your coming here is part of our search for solution. We will take some of your suggestions and we will make sure we work together.
“I want to assure you that this 8th Senate is very committed to work very closely with MAN and to support local industries. Before your visit, we have been very strong on how to revive the economy. We have engaged the Nigerian Economic Summit Group. We have engaged with the private sector to come out with bills that will support the economy of the country. We are looking at how to improve on Bills that affect doing business.
“As you must have known that we have passed the bill on procurement law, an amendment with two areas of interest. One area was to shorten the time it takes for government to process the award of contracts.
“You will find out that this is one area where so much time is lost and by the time the budget is approved they will go to tender the bills and in the process, you will find out that almost the entire year is gone. What we are hoping is that the House of Representatives will concur with us so that the law will be effective immediately.
“Also, part of what we passed in that law is to make it compulsory for government to patronize locally produced goods. This is the practice you see in other countries,” Saraki said.
Earlier, President of MAN, Dr. Frank Udemba Jacobs, urged the National Assembly to ensure stability of relevant government’s economic policies like the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) through appropriate legislation.
Dr. Jacobs commended the diversification drive of the present administration adding that efforts should be geared towards focusing on the non-oil sector.
He also called for appropriate manufacturing financing that would enable manufacturers to access loans with five per cent interest rates as well as the inclusion of local content in locally produced goods