From Uche Usim, Abuja
The Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) at the weekend said it has begun nationwide verification of capital projects belonging to various Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to ensure government’s funds are spent as budgeted.
Consequently, some MDAs are currently jittery as they have failed to cooperate with the commission by providing lucid information on the location, status and funding procedure for their capital projects, despite several letters written to them.
Speaking at a press briefing in Abuja, the Acting Chairman of the commission, Victor Muruako, said the staff will visit 43 selected Federal Government capital project sites spread across the six geo-political zones for verification and monitoring as enshrined in the FRC Act.
He frowned at the increasing number of abandoned and ghost projects, describing the development as very unhealthy for the nation’s economy.
He said: “We are not pleased with refusal of the MDAs to cooperate with us and provide us with the needed information to know where their projects are, to make monitoring and verification easier. We are simply doing our job, which is to ensure prudence in the utilisation of government’s fund so that for every one kobo government spends, Nigerians get a value for it,” Muruako explained.
Consequently, he said the commission was intensifying efforts to ensure the amendment of the FRC Act to give it more powers to punish or recommend sanctions for noncooperating MDAs.
“Since the MDAs know that our Act as it is today, does not contain any sanction or punishment for refusing to oblige us needed information, they ignore our request. That is why we seek amendment of the Act. It will help us. It will give us more powers. It will allow more access to funds for better operation.
“The amendment process did not start today, it started with the 7th National Assembly but was not wrapped up before they wound down. But I am glad President Buhari has resent it and it is being worked on. But more importantly, I want the MDAs to realise we are partners in progress. We are working for the same government for Nigerians good. There should be value for what governments spend so much on. So, if we don’t perform, there will be a snag.
“Aside ensuring prudent management of the nation’s resources, our mandate includes engineering long-term macro-economic stability and securing greater accountability and transparency in fiscal operations within the Medium Term Fiscal Policy Framework (MTEF),” Muruako explained.
He said the Buhari administration was determined to ensure capital projects captured in the budgets are adequately funded to ensure they are completed for Nigerians’ use.
On various abandoned government projects littered across Nigeria, Muruako said a lot of factors were responsible for that, even as he said the commission often advises the government on how to go about it.