Uche Usim, Abuja
The Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr. Anthony Mkpe Ayine, has begun deep engagements with key federal agencies in his efforts to improve the credibility of public finance administration in Nigeria.
The interface, which involves sharing knowledge with key stakeholders to aggregate a position that will strengthen revenue management, is also To prep them for revenue assurance and Information Technology audits.
Ayine has so far visited the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) where he spoke about the Fiscal Governance and Institutions Project (FGIP), a collaborative programme of the federal government and the World Bank, which will see his office conduct revenue assurance audit and IT audit on both establishments.
Ayine explained the project’s activities and priorities to include strengthening revenue management collection and accounting processes, in addition to strengthening controls and accountability in the use of public funds and sought the cooperation of the FIRS and NCS in granting his office free access to personnel, documents, databases and IT applications for the purpose of the assignment.
“Our engagement here is essentially to ensure that the collection of revenue is lawfully made. We will also verify that procedures and checks are in place and properly applied. We will work to ascertain that accounts are duly kept and appropriate remittances are made to the authorized accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria,” he said.
The Auditor-General added “We will verify and evaluate the efficiency of internal controls and accounting systems and also review where applicable, areas where reforms have been made”. He said further that the essence of the exercise is to improve the revenue of government so as to reduce the heavy financial burden of borrowing on the country.
In his remarks, the Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Babatunde Fowler, while appreciating the visit, thanked the Auditor-General for his support towards the service and sought his assistance in ensuring that on a monthly basis, VAT and Withholding Tax deducted, are remitted to government.
He also spoke on the many reforms undertaken by the FIRS which now makes it easy for anyone to carry out tax activities online without visiting the office or interacting with any official of the service.
In the same vein, the Comptroller General of the NCS, Hameed Ibrahim Ali, thanked the Auditor-General for the Resident Auditors who have been of immense benefit to his office and urged for more support in the area of capacity building. He also enumerated various reforms the custom service had introduced to ensure operational efficiency.
The FGIP was approved by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors on June 27, 2018 and has four key components, namely: strengthening revenue management, strengthening controls, transparency and accountability in the use of public funds, strengthening economic and fiscal statistics and implementation support.
The Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation is one of five strategic institutions tasked to implement the project. The others are the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, the National Bureau of Statistics and the Bureau of Public Procurement.