Minister of Power, Works & Housing Babatunde Fashola made this disclosure over the weekend while addressing participants at the Nigerian Pension Industry Strategy Leadership Retreat in Abuja.
Fashola who expressed disgust over the culture of every successive government revoking contracts of previous regimes argued that the practice destroys investor confidence in an economy.
According to the former Lagos Governor, “even where the government of the day finds anomaly in a contract awarded by a past administration, the best approach is to renegotiate the contract to get a better deal rather than outright revocation.
“We must not play politics with our economy. Investors want continuity,” he stressed, noting that investors want continuity of policies, even if government changes.
Mr Fashola disclosed that the Federal Government has commenced review of laws guiding the privatisation and concession of public assets in the country.
He reiterated the need to ensure that privatisation and concession of public assets are done efficiently, noting that it would “require the skills of very experienced legal practitioners to carefully navigate through at least five general laws in order to be able to give sound advice for investment decisions”.
The laws, according to him, are the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission Act, Public Enterprise (Privatisation and Commercialisation) Act, Pubic Procurement Act, Debt Management (Establishment) Act, and Utilities Charges Commission Act.
The minister added that if the concession was in respect of a road project, for example, an investor would still have to look at the Federal Highways Act, which is the sixth law that will guide the particular transaction.
According to him, there is urgent need for the “Federal Government to harmonise all these laws to make them less cumbersome for investors, considering the huge infrastructure gap facing the country.”
He disclosed that work had already begun towards reviewing the laws with a view to making recommendations to the Ministry of Justice to consider and effect some changes.
“As it stands today, it seems to me that the legal regime for regulation of privatisation of public assets can do with some reform,” he stressed.
By Olisemeka Obeche