Senate yesterday passed the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (Amendment) Bill, 2014 and the Oil and Gas Export Free Zones Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2015 after a clause-to-clause consideration.
The AMCON Bill, sponsored by Senator Bassey Otu (PDP-Cross River South) empowers the agency to recapitalise technically insolvent banks.
It also clarifies the scope of AMCON’s powers to achieve intendments without unnecessary interference with its ability to do so.
The passage of the bill empowers AMCON to purchase non-performing loans from Deposit Money Banks, DMPs, recapitalise technically insolvent banks and enhance availability of credit to critical sectors of the economy.
On the passage of the bill, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said the commitment of the Senate to the exercise was to sustain a stable economic system.
He said: “Today (yesterday), we finally fine-tuned the AMCON Bill to make it more operational and to add value to the work they are doing.
“We believe we have covered all the lapses existing in the AMCON Bill with this amendment.’’
The Oil and Gas Export Free Zones Authority (Amendment) Bill, sponsored by Senator Odion Ugbesia (PDP-Edo Central), provides for the designation and establishment of oil free zones and sub-zones to ensure viable laws to act as catalysts for economic growth.
Reacting to the passage of the bill, Ugbesia said it would provide strong legislative background for the oil and gas industry to function properly and legally.
“The main feature is that the appointment of the chairman of the board must be subjected to Senate approval. The other feature is that tax holidays will be enjoyed fully by operators in the oil and gas in the industry because free zones all over the world observe tax holidays.
“This in self provides the opportunity for free zones to contribute to the growth of the economy. It is to encourage industrial development in the country,’’ he said.
Senator Ugbesia decried the fact that the oil and gas industry in the country had over the years not operated in line with global best practices.
Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, said the passage of the bill was a major milestone in the quest to improve the oil and gas sector in the country.
He commended the Senators and other stakeholders for their efforts at ensuring the passage of the bill.
“We know that the oil and gas sector is a major contributor to our economy and as a responsible legislative house, we will continue to partner with government and on behalf of our people to improve the governance of this very vital industry,” he said.

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