The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila on Thursday warned revenue generating agencies of the government and Government Owned Companies, to desist from under remitting revenue generated to the Federation account, saying the act would no longer be tolerated.
Rep Gbajabiamila gave the warning in Abuja while speaking at the commencement of an interactive session on the 2021 to 2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper submitted to the parliament by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He disclosed that the warning became necessary as information before the parliament revealed that in list cases, revenue that was supposed to be remitted to government coffers were diverted to finance unnecessary trivialities.
He pointed out that based on this development the National Assembly would no longer accept such action, saying that when the revenue generated “are not remitted to the Treasury, the government is left to go borrowing to fund its activities”.
According to him, “Our country is currently facing a fiscal crisis, compounded by the intense disruption that has been wrought on our economic performance and financial projections by the COVID 19 pandemic. We are not the only ones
“Nations all over the world, including those we rightly consider to be leading lights, are facing a moment of reckoning that is redefining the way Government operates. Already, we have had to carry out severe cuts to the 2020 Appropriation Act, while at the same time borrowing more to fund urgent development needs and implement interventions to help the most vulnerable of our citizens get through these trying times with some dignity
“All of us in the House of Representatives recognise that the challenges we now face will not abate in the medium term. Yet, we are committed to using the appropriations process as a tool for accomplishing our nation’s most pressing development objectives
“We have a responsibility to act with urgent determination to build the infrastructure of opportunity that is required to lift millions of our fellow citizens out of poverty. We recognise that we cannot accomplish these objectives using loans and outside financing alone
“Therefore, we need impose deep cuts in the cost of governance and improve internal revenue generation and collection so that we can free up resources that can then be deployed to fund policy initiatives that will enhance the lives of our people
“The revenue-generating agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria have a vital role to play in this regard. There has thus far been a consistent failure to adhere to the revenue remittance agreements to which many of these agencies have committed
“We have credible reports that these desperately needed funds have in many cases, been diverted to finance unnecessary trivialities. At the same time, the Government is left scrambling for alternative sources to fund priority projects. We cannot afford this dynamic, and we will not tolerate it any more
“The legislature remains the keeper of the public purse, with broad constitutional authority to act on behalf of the Nigerian people, to ensure that our collective resources are efficiently administered in service of the public good. Let no one be in doubt, the House of Representatives will not hesitate to act on our constitutional authority notwithstanding whatever objections may arise
“You have gathered here today to begin an important assignment that will have a broad impact on our nation’s future. I ask that you keep this in mind at all times. Ensure that your engagements are grounded in a shared determination to help our beloved nation reach its promise of peace and prosperity for all”.
Speaking earlier, Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, Rep. James Abiodun Faleke who collaborated the words of the Speaker said the National Assembly would henceforth be expected the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to deduct from the accounts of any defaulting MDA such revenues the agency owed the Federal Government.
According to him, “as you are aware, the MTEF and FSP provide the framework for the development of the 2021-2023 budgets. lt articulates government economic, social and development objectives as well as strategies for achieving these objectives and priorities
“Although Nigeria was in technical recession during the year 2016, through concerted efforts and strong economic policies, the government exited the country out of recession within a short period
“It is noteworthy that in line with the Constitution, the Executive Order on budgets dated May 18th, 2017, states that “any revenue or other fund of an Agency in excess of the amount budgeted shall accrue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government. The Executive Order also direct Heads of Agencies and Chief Executive Officers of government-owned companies to take personal responsibility and be subject to appropriate sanctions any failure to comply with the Order.”
This, he said will be brought by the amendment of the FRA that will come with the 2021 budget, adding that government has also directed that the cost to revenue ratio of Revenue Generating Agencies and Government Owned Enterprise (GOES) must be capped at between 60 to 70 per cent (for both large and small revenue-generating agencies).
According to him, “going forward and in line with the constitutional powers, the National Assembly will continue to engage GOES, MDAs and Revenue Generating Agencies (RGAs) to generate more fund to fund the National budget.
“The Federal Inland Revenue (FIRS) must devise all strategies and technology to focus more on non-oil revenue, saying “It is our understanding that the country is blessed with huge revenue sources apart from oil. The FIRS has the responsibility to ensure these revenues are tapped and remitted to the government coffers
“The National Assembly on its part has done the needful to approve intervention fund for FIRS to be used for expansion and deployment of technology to enhance our revenue base and thus reduce the country’s external borrowing
“The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) is hereby charged to exhibit some levels of improvement on fiscal reporting, especially special accounts. Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) must be seen to meet the production target and manage approved cost/deductions as per the MTEF/FSP provisions
“Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) on the other hand needs to be more responsible in the reports of oil production and exports. National Petroleum Investment Management Service (NAPIMS) must imbibe the culture of being more transparent in oil and Gas costing and management
“It is expected that in line with the financial guidelines, the following agencies will limit their expenditures to 60% of revenue; NPA, NIMASA, NCC, NIPOST, NDlC, Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority, CBN, CAC, Shippers Council, National Inland Waterways Authority, National Insurance Commission, Raw Materials Research & Development Council, Federal Mortgage of Nigeria, National Development Sugar Council and the aviation parastatals
“RGAs must ensure effective quarterly remittances in line with extant laws and guidelines and must be seen to abide by the provisions MTEF/FSP and the Appropriation bill as passed by the National Assembly.
“The committee also place on record to every participant that virtually all agencies of government generate one form of revenue or the other. Under no circumstances will an agency of government that is fully or partially funded by the Appropriations Act be allowed to spend the revenue it generates more than allowed.”
Hon Faleke said in view of the fiscal challenge which the country is going through, the time has come for the FRC to be strengthened and empowered to carry out its functions. To this end, the NASS will ensure the funding of FRC so as to achieve greater accountability.