The House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Currency has expressed its readiness to consider legislation that would require clearance certificates from the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) as a basic prerequisite to securing government contracts.
This would be in addition to tax clearance and other certificates required under the Public Procurement Act for government suppliers of goods and services.
This, the committee said, is to ensure that private sector businesses are compelled to settle or service their debts, instead of diverting available funds to grow their businesses.
The Chairman of the committee, Hon. Jones Chukwudi Onyereri, at a public hearing yesterday, directed AMCON officials to submit a draft bill for the amendment as soon as possible, for consideration by the House.
“Malaysia, following the establishment of its Malaysia Asset Management Corporation, did not allow any of its debtors enjoy government patronage, not even their families,” Onyereri said.
The hearing was conducted on a bill to amend the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) Act of 2010, to expand the board of the corporation so as to enhance the efficiency in the discharge of its statutory duties and for other related matters.
The position of the committee followed a submission made by AMCON Executive Director (Credit), Kola Ayeye, who noted that the requirement has assisted with the debt recovery in recent times.
“In AMCON’s N4 trillion portfolio, about N700 billion is from the energy sector. In 2015, we made lots of recovery, in billions, from oil marketers, because the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, instructed that they should not be paid unless they get clearance from AMCON. So debtors who were not even talking to us, were forced to,” he said.
“But our experience last year (2016) was different: there are people who will get a term lifting contract of N10 billion, and they are owing AMCON,” he added.
Ayeye told the committee that such requirement as a prerequisite to secure government contracts in all sectors, would strengthen AMCON’s recovery efforts.
An official of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Legal Department, Kofo Abdulsalami Alada, backed the enactment of such legislation.
“If you are taking contract from the government, you have to obtain tax clearance, so why not a clearance from AMCON? “ he said.
At a separate hearing on another bill yesterday, the committee, CBN and the NDIC all supported an amendment, to the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), to ensure regular contributions into the Sovereign Wealth Fund,
The hearing is on a Bill for an Act to Amend the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (establishment) Act 2011, to align it with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,1999, restore sovereignty to the Naira, as the national currency, ensure transparency of its funding and entrench parliamentary accountability and for other matters connected therewith.
The committee said the contributions should be made in naira.