OrderPaperToday- Lawmakers in the Senate have moved to investigate the level of utilisation of the Natural Resources Development Fund for the development of natural resources in the country.


The inquiry is to be undertaken by the Senate Committee on Finance.


They also mandated the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Solid Mineral Development to organise a conference on illegal mining activities in December to review the various intervention policies and programmes in the Agricultural and solid minerals sectors.


The chamber equally approved a resolution to establish a Solid Mineral Resources Development Commission that will be saddled with the responsibility of coordinating and checking illegal mining in the country.


Lastly, the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development was urged to formalise the operations of illegal miners so that government can start to generate revenue from the collection of taxes and royalties.


All these were resolutions of a motion moved by Senator Ibikunle Amosun on the need for the continuous implementation of policy reforms for the diversification of the Nigerian economy through the agricultural and solid mineral sectors.


Amosun noted that the agricultural sector remains the mainstay of the Nigerian economy in spite of the dominant role of the petroleum sector as the major foreign exchange earner for the country.


He affirmed that it is the largest employer of labour and a key contributor to wealth creation and poverty alleviation, as a large percentage of the population derive their income from agriculture and related activities.


“Available statistics show that while the contribution of crude petroleum and natural gas to the nations GDP declined from 14.95 per cent in 2011 to 9.61 per cent in 2015, the agricultural sector contributed 23.35 and 23.11 per cent to the nations GDP in these respective periods,” he stated.


He expressed optimism that the agricultural initiatives by the federal government will reposition the Agricultural and solid mineral sectors, contribute to sustainable development of the Nigerian economy and also lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next ten years.


Also adopted by the chamber is the need for overhaul of Agriculture Research Institutes to make use of urban research methods and a call on the federal government to set up regulatory and marketing body around exportable crops.


Finally, the Senate moved that the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, should grant tax holidays for investors in the solid minerals sector, provide grants for feasibility studies, provide low interest rates for leasing and purchasing of equipment, as well as to simplify the processes of acquiring mining licenses.


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