Senate President Bukola Saraki, on Monday declared open the public hearing organized by the Senate Committee on Finance on three proposed bills:
– Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Bill (SB 331);
– Companies Income Tax Act 2004 (Amendment Bill) 2017 (SB 14); and the
– Bill for an Act to Provide for Constituency Projects in the Annual Budget of the Federation and For Other Matters Connected Therewith (SB321).
Afterwards, his media team released a statement, emphasising the importance of the bills. Actually, the importance of two of the bills.
“In my comments, I emphasized the need for Nigeria’s tax regime to be characterized by transparency, accountability, and sound economic management. This is why through the Tax Incentive Management Bill and the amendment to the Companies Income Tax Bill, the Senate will be enhancing the nation’s legal framework for the regulation of tax incentives,” Saraki said.
Wait a second! How about the Constituency Project Bill? Saraki was noticeably silent on that one.
Why though? The constituency projects of lawmakers is frequently a bone of contention between the executive and legislative arms. Budget estimates submitted by the executive are wantonly jacked up by the lawmakers with their constituency projects – an aberration not found in other climes. In a particular year, up to N100 billion was set aside for these projects.
Last month at an event in Niger state, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said, “You and I know what constituency projects mean, it is simply corruption.”
Its a view shared by most Nigerians. The role of lawmakers in a democracy is to make laws and perform oversight, not execute projects. Also, lawmakers have devised dubious means of ensuring that only companies fronting for them or those belonging to their cronies are pre-qualified as contractors for their projects. When lawmakers are so involved in execution of projects, they taint their ability to do proper oversight.
No wonder Saraki decided to gloss over it in his statement.