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Lawan to FG: Prioritize safety of investments in Nigeria

  • Senate moves against importation of fake goods

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said that efforts by the Federal Government to prioritize the safety and security of private sector investments across the country would guarantee an improved economy for Nigeria. 

Lawan stated this on Wednesday in his remarks moments after the upper chamber considered a bill to enact the Public-Private Partnership Regulatory Commission Bill 2021.

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The bill which scaled second reading during plenary was sponsored by Senator Muhammad Adamu Aliero (APC, Kebbi Central). 

According to the Senate President, the provision of a safe environment which allows ease of doing business would encourage public-private partnerships needed to drive investments and develop the various sectors of the economy. 

He, therefore, called on the executive to ensure that the Public-Private Partnership Regulatory Commission bill, is assented into law when eventually passed by the National Assembly. 

Lawan said, “Let me say that our country at this point and, indeed, at any point, should embark on public private partnership to ensure that we free our scarce resources for social development, particularly education and health, and similar sub-sectors.

“I believe that at this point in our history, with very limited resources, we need to encourage the private sector to participate in the development of infrastructure in our country.

“[And] of course, this is the practice, but one thing is clear, that we have to provide a convenient and safe environment for the public and private sector to be convinced that their investments would provide the kind of return that they aspire to get, and that there’s the legal framework to protect their investments.

“No matter how hard we wish to encourage the private sector to participate in our economy, if the investments do not appear to be fully protected, or they feel unsafe, we will be disappointed. 

“So, I believe that this is a very important bill. And it is for us in government – both the executive and the legislature – particularly the two arms government, to work hard to provide the kind of climate of ease of doing business, security and safety to promote and protect private sector investments in our country. 

“I believe that Nigeria has the kind of population that will encourage any private sector investment to come.

“What may be a setback at the moment, is the security challenge that we face, but thank God we are doing well and would continue to do so, but this is one bill that all of us in the legislature and executive arm of government would like to see become a law that will also be fully implemented for the benefit of our country.”

Senator Aliero, in his lead debate on the Public-Private Partnership Regulatory Commission Bill 2021, said the piece of legislation seeks to repeal the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (Establishment) Act 2005 and enact the Public Private Partnership Regulatory Commission Bill 2021.  

According to the lawmaker, “One of the major challenges affecting the growth of the Nigerian economy is the huge deficit in both the areas of social and economic infrastructure; roads, railway, seaports, and airports, the provision of affordable health care and medical facilities to mention a few. 

“To bridge this gap, massive investments must be made in the expansion of the country’s infrastructure services well beyond the resources and capacity of the government, which has been solely responsible for the provision of such infrastructure.” 

The bill after scaling second reading was referred by the Senate President to the Committee on Works.

The Committee was given four weeks to report back to the chamber in plenary. 

Senate moves against importation of fake goods

A bill seeking to prohibit the importation of fake goods into Nigeria on Wednesday scaled second reading in the Senate. 

Such fake goods targeted by the bill are unauthorized or illegally manufactured, reproduced, altered or distributed products associated with abuse of recognized intellectual property right, such as trademark, patents, design or copyright in goods. 

Among fake goods to be prohibited are counterfeited and pirated currencies, apparel, consumer electronics, automotive parts, pharmaceuticals, foods and drinks and chemicals among others. 

The bill tagged “Counterfeit Goods Bill 2021” was sponsored by Senator Ibikunle Amosun (APC, Ogun Central). 

Leading debate on the principles of the bill, Amosun said the bill which was read for the first time on Tuesday, 6th July, 2021, is a 26-Clause legislative proposal. 

According to him, it provides for the prohibition of manufacturing, production, possession, and distribution of counterfeit goods. 

“It simplifies the process of laying complaints by persons interested in protected goods that are counterfeited and provides an enhanced enforcement capacity. 

“The Bill also provides for administration of criminal investigation; and seeks to make prosecution a lot less cumbersome so as to provide effective control of counterfeit goods in the country. 

“While the Customs Service is further empowered to check and control imported counterfeit goods, the police is given the power to demand information for efficient crime prevention and prosecution”, the lawmaker said. 

Amosun lamented that over the years, Nigeria has become a major destination for counterfeit and pirated goods and a significant transit route to other West African countries. 

“The growing number of counterfeit goods in the country is a major threat and challenge for businesses, consumers and the economy. 

“In fact, it is difficult to put an exact value or loss occasioned by counterfeiting, as there are no accurate figures on the number of counterfeited goods, type of goods or the volume of its sales”, he added. 

The bill after consideration was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on Trade and Investments for further legislative work. 

The Committee was given four weeks to report back to the chamber in plenary.

Meanwhile, a bill seeking to establish the Nigerian Institute for Border Studies, Kosubosu Baruten in Kwara State, has also scaled second reading. 

The bill sponsored by Senator Sadiq Suleiman Umar (Kwara North), was referred by the Senate President to the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND for further inputs. 

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