The House of Representatives has said it will not pass any law that will deprive the Federal Government of any revenue accruing to it even as it moves to amend the Establishment Acts of government agencies that have robbed the government of huge revenue over the years.
Benjamin Kalu, the spokesman of the House, disclosed this while briefing assembly correspondents.
He said Nigerians could take advantage of the amendment being sought by the President to the Petroleum Industry Act to bring in their own amendment which may include revisiting the issue of host community funds.
The PIA was recently signed by the President. A three percent share of operating revenue of oil companies was allocated to host communities in the Act but stakeholders in the Niger Delta region kicked against it.
Kalu said the House was willing to listen and review whatever proposal Nigerians may present to them using the opportunity of the amendment being sought by the President, adding that such proposal will be treated on its merit.
Asked if the House would revisit the 5 percent it initially approved for the host communities, he said “the process of lawmaking involves amending existing laws and making new laws.
“For new laws to be made, it is either sponsored by members of the public or members of parliament as allowed by those he represents. On the other side is what we call the Executive Bill which comes from the executive arm of government proposing what they want to do.
“The same thing is applicable when you want to start the process of amending laws. Amending a legislation is like making a new law. Amendment is adding something new to the existing law.
“The executive has made a proposal for an adjustment to be made with regard to issues of non-executive directors. Nothing stops the public from pushing in their own amendment or proposals and nothing stops the parliament from pushing their own proposal. If the parliament finds merit in their own proposition, we will consider it alongside the proposition from Mr. President.”
While insisting that the House will not allow any legislation that will deny the government of revenue, he said “we are committed to ensuring that all loopholes and sources of revenue leakages are blocked.
“What the Finance Committee has done was to discover some of those agencies that we need to reshape their establishment acts. Yes, we produced these Establishment Acts, but not remitting revenue at a time when the government needs it more should not be left like that.
“So, there is the need to review the acts of those agencies that their Establishment Acts did not allow them to do that. We are also going to look at those who are under remitting.
“That a bill passed through first reading on the floor does not mean that is the position of the parliament. So, don’t worry, we are not going to be passing bills that will stop the federal government from mopping up revenue that will help our nation from where we are to where we are supposed to be.”
The Spokesman denied any friction or battle for supremacy between the House and the Senate regarding concurrence to bills passed by both chambers even though the House has constantly complained of the Senate failing to give concurrence to its bills.
He said “there is no seeming friction between the House and the Senate. We should stop building a mountain out of a molehill. There is no battle of supremacy and there is no context anywhere. The various Houses know the boundaries of their mandate and the scope of their operation as well as how to manage their expectations based on the mandate well expressed in the constitution that established the two chambers.
“Let us not import things into the relationship we have within the National Assembly. The National Assembly has only one Chairman, the President of Senate and we are all under the Chairman of the National Assembly. We work in sync towards fulfilling our mandate. They cannot work without us and they cannot work without us.”
He also assured quick consideration of the budget once it is laid before the National Assembly, but was emphatic that the House was yet to receive any communication from the President on when he wants to lay the document before them.
Ben Akabueze, the director general of the Budget Office, was quoted as saying that the President will present the budget to the lawmakers before the end of September.
Source: The Nation