The Senate Tuesday asked the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency, expedite action towards the completion of the Ajaokuta steel plant.
The Senate while commending President Muhammadu Buhari on the inauguration of the Committee on the implementation of Ajaokuta Steel, however urged the Committee to hit the ground running by ensuring that all issues surrounding the operation of Ajaokuta Steel Company are resolved.
The Upper Chamber has also urged the Senate Leadership and the Committee on Solid Minerals and Steel Development to undertake an assessment oversight on the complex after the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Senate has also appealed to the Federal Ministry of Transport to complete the Ajaokuta-Okaba rail line to facilitate the operations of the Ajaokuta steel plant.
Resolutions of the Senate yesterday were sequel to a motion titled, “The Ajaokuta Steel Company: A panacea to the diversification of the Nigerian Economy and sponsored by Senator Yakubu Useni, APC, Kogi Central.
The Senate has also charged its committee on solid minerals on the implementation of the project to ensure that all issues surrounding the operation of Ajaokuta steel projects were resolved.
In his contribution, Senator Smart Adeyemi, APC, Kogi West who noted that the completion of the complex will check unemployment, however lamented the theft of some of the materials from the complex by the Indian company which was brought in supposedly to complete the company.
On his part, Senator Isah Jibrin, APC, Kogi East said, “I support the motion, I call for the completion of the Ajaokuta-Okaba rail line to ease the reactivation of the steel industry.”
Meanwhile, the urged the Federal Government to include the Import Duty and VAT Waivers granted on medical supplies to apply on essential pharmaceutical drugs such as anti-malaria, anti-diabetics, anti-hypertensive, anti-cancer and several others needed by children and elderly, the elderly being most vulnerable to COVID-19 patients.
The Senate has also commended the Federal Government for the recent Import Duty and Value Added Tax (VAT) Waiver on health and medical supplies in the country as part of measures to abate the spread of COVID-19 Pandemic in Nigeria.
Resolutions of the Senate yesterday were sequel to a motion titled “Urgent need for the Federal Government to Streamline Import Duty and Value Added Tax (VAT) Waiver to Essential Pharmaceutical Drugs” and Sponsored by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, YPP, Anambra South.
The Upper Chamber has also mandated the Senate Committee on Legislative Compliance to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Finance with a view to ensuring compliance with the resolutions that were reached.
Earlier in his presentation, Senator Ubah said that the Senate is “Fully aware of the fact that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government of Nigeria on the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Customs Organization (WCO) adopted fiscal measures including introduction of import duty and value added tax (VAT) waivers on essential health and medical supplies in order to abate the spread of the pandemic in Nigeria.
” Notes that in line with the fiscal measures introduced via the Nigeria Customs Service circular No: NSC/HS/899/31/T/VOLn 4 dated April 29, 2020, all medical supplies relevant to the management of COVID-19 infection were exempted from import duty and VAT waiver for a period of of six(6) months effective from May 1, 2020, different from Presidential directives to include all pharmaceutical products”
According to him, the Senate further “notes that the import duty and VAT waivers granted by the Federal Government on Medical supplies as operated by the Nigerian Customs did not extend to essential pharmaceutical drugs such as anti malaria, anti-diabetes, anti-hypertensive l, anti-cancer and several others needed by children and the elderly; the elderly being most vulnerable group of people to the COVID-19 infection.
“Further aware that the disruption in economic activities and the total/relaxed lockdown of several states in the country as part of measures to control the spread of the pandemic in the country has adversely affected the disposal income of most people to purchase essential drugs such as anti-malaria, anti-diabetes, anti-hypertensive and anti-cancer drugs thereby increasing the vulnerability of people with such ailments to COVID-19 infection.”
The Senator expressed concern over the current exchange rate which has hit hard on pharmaceutical companies as the Nigerian Customs rate of N465 to a dollar has made things difficult for importers. Many of the pharmaceutical companies rely more on drug import which is to the tune of about 70%.
Also yesterday, President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan ruled Senator George Sekibo, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Rivers East out of order on the need to direct Buhari to disband the Committee set up by the IG in Rivers
Senator George Sekibo had raised a point of order on the setting up of a Committee for the inspection of agricultural products passing through Rivers state.
He said, “The Rivers state government had earlier set up a Committee before the IG of Police set up a parrallel Committee to that effect and this two Committees are bound to have conflict.
“We should call the President to direct the IG of Police to disband the parallel Committee set up by the IG so as to avoid conflict.”
President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan announced that the Senate will adjourn plenary for two weeks, to resume sitting, June 2nd.