The senators’ stand followed the second reading of the Bill for an Act seeking to repeal the law which established the committee.
Leading the debate, Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba said the objectives of the NEIC was to work out details on the methods of enforcing implementation of the annual budget.
He said that NEIC objectives, among others, included the consideration of any issue appropriate and relevant to the subject of revenue collection.
Ndoma-Egba, however, submitted that the objectives of the NEIC have lost their relevance in the face of current economic policies of the government.
He said that the objectives of the NEIC were currently being handled by the Ministry of Finance, the Budget Office and other existing economic and financial institutions.
“The Bill is very straight forward and it is meant to remove the NEIC Act from our Statute books because it has outlived its usefulness.
“Apart from Ministry of Finance and its parastatals, the National Planning Commission is also performing similar functions.
“The decision of the Executive to repeal the Act is a right step in the right direction,‘’ Ndoma-Egba said.
In his contribution, Sen. Uche Chukwumerije (PDP-Abia) argued that the repeal of the NEIC was a demonstration of government’s effort to shed “excess load’’ which had become a big drain on resources.
“Every excess load should be cut off. This is one of those excess loads that we must throw away to enable us go forward.’’
Sen. Chris Anyanwu (APGA – Imo) commended the government for taking appropriate action to do away with irrelevant institutions and agencies of government.
“This one has outlived its usefulness and for the first time we are taking the right step to abolish it, otherwise we will just be creating `jobs for the boys’’.
Also speaking, Sen. Ita Enang (PDP –Akwa Ibom) urged the Senate to look beyond the NEIC and take necessary action to abolish other agencies whose objectives were no longer tenable.
“The Constitution has set up the National Economic Council with the Vice President, 36 governors and CBN governor as members. There is therefore no need for the continued existence of the NEIC.
“I pray that the President, and we the legislature, will look out for those government bodies that need to be abolished, so that appropriate action can commence on them, ‘’ Enang urged.
Similarly, Sen. Adesola Adeyeye (ACN – Osun) noted that the country could only achieve economic progress when government pays serious attention to curbing the waste of public funds.
“If we must run Nigeria well, then we must reduce the size of government. You don’t create endless bureaucracy to achieve efficiency.’’
Senators Ben Ayade (PDP- Cross River) and George Akume (ACN- Benue) however cautioned that instead of repeal, the NEIC Act should be amended for enhanced performance.
Akume noted that the NEIC was still relevant to help in monitoring the activities of the CBN and the Ministry of Finance for proper implementation of government’s economic policies.
“Instead of outright repeal, we should find ways to reform it for maximum and efficient performance.’’
Ayade pointed out that it would be difficult to monitor the government’s economic policies without the existence of a superior economic intelligence committee.
“We need an independent economic intelligence committee to monitor the Ministry of Finance and other related agencies.
“We should make amendments to re-organise the selection process into the committee.
“This will eliminate the problem of under-performance and boost efficiency, ‘’ he argued.
The Bill was then read for the second time and referred to the Senate Committee on Finance for further legislative action.