Sunday Aborisade, Abuja
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, finally appeared before the Senate Committee on Finance on Tuesday, but demanded to answer questions in camera.
His deputy, Mr Adebisi Shonubi, was on Monday prevented from addressing the Senate panel.
Emefiele was summoned by the committee over the issue of exchange rate for funding key projects.
The committee headed by Solomon Adeola had rejected Shonubi on the grounds that he was not the one invited by them, but his boss.
The panel also blamed Emefiele for not informing them earlier that he would be sending a representative.
The CBN governor was therefore asked to appear before the panel on Tuesday at 2pm.
On Emefiele’s arrival, Adeola demanded to know why he failed to honour their invitation without cogent reasons.
Adeola said, “Long before now, we had expected that we would have you around, especially on the issue of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper which the Federal Government budget is predicated upon.
“The issue we look forward to hearing from you today is the one that borders on stamp duty.
“We also want to know what should be our expectations in this year’s budget and how the revenue from stamp duty could work for us in the 2020 Appropriation Act.
“We also want you to brief on the profile of Nigeria as a country in terms of monetary policies as it affects the economy of the country.”
Emefiele in his response, apologised for his inability to honour the invitation, stressing that it was not done to disrespect the Senate.
He also told the panel that the Act establishing the CBN had given it power to regulate monetary policy including interest rates and exchange rates.
He said, “I apologise for my absence from the committee’s sitting yesterday (Monday), I was unfortunately held down in another assignment where I was with the Vice-President.”
He added, “Due to the fact that the stamp duty matter and other related matters are currently at the High Court, I would like to crave your kind indulgence to permit us to speak in camera.”
Adeola granted the request of the CBN Governor and the meeting ended behind closed doors.
The committee had summoned Emefiele to appear before them to give reasons for the exchange rate the CBN used for three key projects under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund.
The PIDF was earmarked from dollar denominated Sovereign Wealth Fund to partly fund the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Second Niger Bridge, Abuja–Kano Expressway, East-West Road and the Mambilla Hydro Project.
The first three projects had already been funded to the tune of N163.8bn.
The panel demanded the appearance of the CBN governor during an interactive session between the panel and the Managing Director of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, Uche Orji.
Orji and his management team had told the committee that the contracts for the projects were denominated in naira and that the CBN exchange rate for the disbursed fund was N325 to a dollar instead of the official rate of N305.