THE House of Representatives, on Tuesday, tackled President Goodluck Jonathan over debt profile of the country and demanded strict implementation of the 2007 Fiscal Responsibility Act and, as well, placed 60-day ultimatum on the president to fix consolidated debt limits of the federal and state governments.
This was sequel to a motion sponsored by the House Minority Leader, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, where he drew the attention of the House to non-implementation of Section 42 of the Fiscal Act.
The lawmaker added that non- adherence to the Act was capable of encouraging recklessness in government borrowings and improper utilisation of borrowed funds to the detriment of Nigeria’s economic growth.
According to the Debt Management Office (DMO), by December 31, 2011, Nigeria’s external debt stood at US$5.7 billion, from US$4.5 billion in 2010 and US$ 3.9 billion in 2009.
Section 42 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007, however, provided for the president to set overall limits for the amounts of consolidated debt of the federal and state governments, pursuant to the provisions of item 7 and 50 of Part 1 of the second schedule to the 1999 Constitution (as amended) subject to approval of the National Assembly.
Gbajabiamila also noted that since the Act came into effect, the president had not complied with the provisions of section 42, stressing that the overall intention of the Act was “to enable us to live within our means and only engage in prudent and responsible borrowing when necessary.”
In his contribution, Honourable Forte Dike noted that large portions of the borrowed fund in the country were
plundered and laundered abroad by public officials at the detriment of projects which the funds were meant for.
But Honourable Jerry Manwe described the motion as self indicting on the lower House, since the National Assembly constantly acceded to the president’s request to borrow money without recourse to the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
When the motion was put to vote by the Speaker, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, it was unanimously passed.