Moves by the House of Representatives to ensure strict implementation of the 2007 Fiscal Responsibility Act gathered steam as federal lawmakers yesterday placed a 60-day ultimatum on President Goodluck Jonathan to fix consolidated debt limits of the federal and state governments.
A motion sponsored by the lower House minority leader, Femi Gbajabiamila (Lagos/ACN) stated that the non-implementation of Section 42 of the Act was capable of encouraging imprudence and recklessness in Government borrowings and improper utilization of borrowed funds to the detriment of Nigeria’s economic growth.
As at 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, according to the Debt Management Office (DMO). According to Forte Dike (Anambra/APGA) who spoke in support, large portions of the borrowed monies are plundered and laundered abroad by public officials at the detriment of projects which the monies are meant for.
Speaking in the dissent, Jerry Manwe (Taraba/PDP) differed on the plan to place the 60-day ultimatum on the president. He described the move as self indicting on the lower House, since the National Assembly constantly accedes to the president’s request to borrow monies without recourse to the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
Section 42 of the 2007 Fiscal Responsibility Act provides for the president to set overall limits for the amounts of consolidated debt of the federal and state governments subject to approval of the National Assembly.