Amid Petroleum Industry Bill, Senate to begin debate next week

ABUJA—STRONG indications emerged yesterday that the Senate will next week commence deliberation on the passage of the controversial Petroleum Industry (Governance) Bill, otherwise known as PIB, that had been on the top burner. According to a source, the PIB will lead other major issues which the Senate will next week pay serious attention to, as part of efforts by senators to reposition the economy. The source said the Bill to be known as Bill for an Act to provide for the Governance and Institutional Framework for the Petroleum Industry and for other related matters, 2016, would be moved for second reading by the chairman of Senate Committee on Petroleum, Upstream, Senator Omotayo Alasoadura, APC, Ondo Central. The PIB, which had been in the National Assembly for almost a decade, has now been broken into different bills to address various aspects of the oil industry. The move to break it down, according to Senate President, Bukola Saraki, is to ensure that the aspects of the old laws not controversial would be quickly passed, while the other areas that required more consultations would come later. Meanwhile, ahead of debate on the PIB, senators from the Niger Delta areas who had moved for the suspension of the bill some months ago because they believed that the non-inclusion of the community demands in the first phase might aggravate the tension in the oil producing areas, have concluded plans to meet next Monday to brainstorm on the resuscitation of the bill. They are also to ensure that the work on its passage moved at a top speed. The plan is to ensure that the PIB was passed before the end of the legislative sitting for 2016. It was also gathered that the Senate will next Wednesday, consider the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, and Fiscal Strategy Paper, FSP, in consonance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007. Also next week, the amendment of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Act (amendment) Bill 2016, among 24 other bills will be debated. While the report of the committee on INEC will be laid by its chairman, Senator Abu Kyari, on Tuesday, the Senate will deliberate on the report the next day, with a view to taking a decision on amendment of the law setting up and guiding the activities of the commission. The amendment of the INEC Bill may be complemented for the slating of the Bill for an Act to amend the Electoral Act 2010 and for other Matters connected for second reading, just as the bill is sponsored by Senator Monsurat Sunmonu. The debate on MTEF, which was suspended last week to enable the lawmakers get necessary information that will enable members have informed view of the proposed plans, will resume, following the provision of the required details by Ministers of Budget and Planning and Finance.

 

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