In a concerted campaign to devise legislation aiming to provide timely financial succour to Nigerians in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak, the House of Representatives Tuesday passed the Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill 2020 through the first, second and third readings in just over one hour.
Co-sponsored by the House of Representatives Head, Femi Gbajabiamila and Ahmed Wase, his deputy, the bill aspires to keep Nigerians financially stable and relieved as the country takes stock of the COVID-19 outbreak and pursues economic recovery.
The legislation, christened “A Bill for an Act to Provide for Relief on Corporate Tax Liability, Suspension of Import Duty on Selected Goods and Deferral of Residential Mortgage Obligations to the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria for Fixed Term to Protect Jobs and Alleviate the Financial Burden on Citizens in Response to the Economic Downturn Occasioned by the Outbreak of COVID–19 Disease,” awaits the Senate’s approval.
It will find its way to the presidency for final assent once the upper arm of the parliament, currently on a two-week recess, gives its nod.
It has in mind provision of temporary relief to individuals and firms and to ameliorate the harsh economic condition spurred by the pandemic in Nigeria.
Beyond financial comforts, the bill is pursuing job security measures that will forbid employers from undertaking job cuts and mass retrenchment at this time.
“This, we hope, will prevent large-scale job losses in an already fragile economy and allow our people to carry on with their lives as best as possible in the event of a large-scale outbreak of the sort we have witnessed in other parts of the world,” Mr Gbajabiamila said.
In the mortgage market, borrowers will have their repayment burden eased via access to a moratorium on credit facilities.
Similarly, individual beneficiaries of the National Housing Fund Scheme would have their contribution obligations postponed by three months in the first instance.
The impact of the proposed law will probably weigh more in favour of corporate Nigeria considering that a new tax regime, seeking rebate on Company Income Tax to the tune of 50% of Pay As You Earn (PAYE) deductions provided firms maintain their PAYE rolls between 1st March to June 2020, is mooted.
The speaker announced that import duties on medical and safety goods would be stalled beginning from March up to June. Dr Osagie Ehanire, the Health Minister, is expected to publish the items in the ministry’s gazette.