Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki today urged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to support Nigeria’s economic policies and help to spread the message to the international community that the new government in the country is committed to fiscal discipline.
Saraki while receiving a delegation of the Fund led by the Managing Director, Ms.Christine Lagarde said the new government also has a supportive legislature which is devoted to enacting legislations that will create a conducive atmosphere for business to thrive.
He said that at this critical period when the economy is affected by the oil price, what Nigeria requires from international institutions like the IMF is solid backing for its policies aimed at diversifying and modernising the economy, creating more jobs, rebuilding the national infrastructure and attracting foreign direct investments.
He assured the IMF team that there is a bi-partisan commitment of all members of the federal legislature on the need to “work closely with the Executive arm in addressing the challenges facing the economy…(particularly) the need to partner with the executive through legislation that gives confidence to investors that the era of policy uncertainty is gone”.
The Senate President added: “That is why the focus of our Legislative Agenda is to give priority to laws that will provide a more conducive business environment, reduce the cost of doing business, make dispute resolution very easy, end impunity and reduce corruption in the system”,.
He assured the visitors that part of the support the legislature aimed to give to the economic recovery effort of the present administration is to ” make laws that will block identified legal loopholes that have resulted in revenue leakages; expand the tax base; improve oversight systems; expose corruption and provide better legal frameworks to entrench the rule of law and end impunity”.
The Senate President used the occasion to call on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure that in reacting to recent developments in the economy, it does not devalue the Naira for the mere sake of devaluation.
Rather, he called on the apex bank to introduce a more flexible foreign exchange regime and reduce the present restrictions on the autonomous market which does not allow business men to bring in foreign exchange or utilise what they have in their accounts.
“The IMF should support our CBN to bring in low interest loans to SMEs. We need to encourage entrepreneurs and make most of our new graduates job creators rather than job seekers. This is an area where we need the financial support and technical assistance of the IMF”, he said.