Buhari Declines Assent To Ajaokuta Steel Company Bill Cites Financial Constraints

President Muhammadu Buhari has declined assent to the Ajaokuta Steel Company Completion Fund and seven other bills passed by the National Assembly.

President Buhari had on Tuesday communicated his decision to decline assent to the bills in letters written to the Senate and read on the floor by Senate President Bukola Saraki.

The bills rejected are the Ajaokuta Steel Company Completion Fund, Nigerian Aeronautical Search and Rescue, Chartered Institute of Training and Development of Nigeria (Establishment), Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, National Housing Fund Bill, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bill, National Institute of Credit Administration Bill, and Chartered Institute of Training and Development of Nigeria (Establishment) Bill.

According to the content of the letter being read by Saraki, President Buhari explained that appropriating $1 billion from Excess Crude Account for funding Ajaokuta Steel Company Completion as stipulated in the bill was not the best strategic option for Nigeria at this time of budgetary constraints.

He added that Nigeria cannot afford to commit such an amount in the midst of competing priorities with long term social and economic impact that the funds can be attentively deployed towards.

On the reason for declining assent to the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Bill, President Buhari said it is because the agency will have similar objectives with the Bank of industry, particularly with regard to the funding of Small and Medium Enterprises.

“Section 32 of the bill, introduces a two and half percent levy on the profit before tax of the target companies which will increase the tax burdens of the companies while offering no direct benefit to them.

“A one percent levy on imports, which will also add to the cost of doing business in the country.

“A five percent levy on luxury goods, which duplicates efforts by the Federal Ministry of Finance to raise excise on such goods in a more sustainable manner to the benefit of the Federal Government treasury,” Buhari explained.

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