Okorocha suggested it, Italy has done it; Italy reduces number of lawmakers to save N32b, awaits referendum
Rochas Okorocha

Okorocha suggested it, Italy has done it; Italy reduces number of lawmakers to save N32b, awaits referendum

It was first suggested in Nigeria on the floor of the Senate last week by former Imo State Governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha, (APC, Imo West) who called for a reduction in the number of legislators.

He told journalists shortly after making the same suggestion at plenary that he would prepare a bill for one Senator and three federal representatives per State.

But in Italy, according to a BBC report, the lawmakers have passed a law that would reduce their numbers as part of cost-cutting measures. P

The Italian move, if it takes off in 2023 as planned, will save that country €81.6 million (about N32 billion) annually. Nigeria’s National Assembly is likely to save almost the same amount annually if Okorocha’s suggestion is adopted. If the amount to be saved on legislative aides paid from the Assembly coffers monthly is included, the Nigerian figures will surpass Italy’s, it was gathered.

The former Governor said that what three senators and several House of Representatives members could do for a state, four lawmakers could do, adding that the nation’s annual revenue generation could not fund the budget for the year, because crude oil was the major source of income.

He adds:“I want one senator and three House of Representatives members per state, which will cut expenses.

“A senator and three House of Representatives members can do what many have been doing.

“We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect different thing to happen. We must cut our cloth according to the available yard,” he said.

“There is need for constitutional amendment, rather than engaging many people in politics, we can have few in the national assembly while others can venture into other sectors…

“If we have a Governor in a state, one senator and three house of representative members can help in development…

“I will present the bill based on the mood of the national assembly, whether it starts now or later, we must do things differently.” 

According to the BBC, Italy’s parliament voted Tuesday to cut the number of representatives in both houses by more than a third.

The lower house approved a law to reduce the number of MPs from 630 to 400 and senators from 315 to 200.

The reform was a manifesto promise of the populist Five Star Movement, the main party in Italy’s governing coalition.

They say it will streamline parliament and save hundreds of millions of euros in salaries and expenses.

However, critics say the move will weaken democracy and increase the influence of lobbyists. The new law is potentially subject to a confirmatory referendum as it makes changes to the Italian constitution.

“It’s done! Promise kept” a blog post from Five Star said after the vote in the lower house on Tuesday.

In a post on Twitter, Five Star said the bill – which was supported by almost all parties – would save the country €1bn (£897m) over 10 years.

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“It’s the day we’ve been awaiting forever,” Cabinet Secretary Riccardo Fraccaro said, according to Ansa.

“After almost 30 years of broken promises, the cut in MPs and senators is a reality. A new political season is starting, now the citizens are at the centre.”

The news agency AGI (in Italian) calculated that as an MP costs €230,000 per year and a senator €249,600, the cuts in the lower house would save €52.9m annually and those in the senate €28.7m.

The new law should come into effect after the next elections which are due in 2023.

A governing coalition between Five Star and the far-right League party broke down in August. Last month Five Star entered into a new coalition with the centre-left PD and made the new law a condition of its alliance.

The government’s other main objective is to pass a budget to block a rise in VAT (sales tax), which is set to kick in on 1 January if the government fails to reach its debt-reduction target.

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