A Nigerian NGO, Civil Society Legislative Centre (CISLAC) has called for effective implementation of anti-corruption commitments by Nigeria to help the country address its economic challenges.
CISLAC Executive Director, Auwal Rafsanjani, made the call in a position paper at a media interaction at the IMF/World Bank Annual Meeting in Washington D.C.
Rafsanjani said implementing the commitments would help to address corruption in the oil and gas sector.
According to him, corruption in the sector is expressed in several ways, including oil theft and all other forms of sabotage within the trade value chain – fuel subsidy and other unproductive incentives.
He said the trend had consistently left the country in a situation where this revered sector was rather sapping revenue from the government instead of contributing substantially to fund developmental projects.
Rafsanjani, who is also the Head of Transparency International – Nigeria, expressed optimism that implementing a number of strategic commitments signed within the global space would help in fighting corruption.
“Among them and the most prominent are the beneficial ownership disclosure and contract transparency.
“These have the capacity to reduce economic sabotaging tools to the barest minimum; it will reduce terrorism financing which is also a major contributor to an unconducive economic environment.
“Strengthening of all the mechanisms that are needed for these two initiatives to thrive is a sure way towards economic recovery and debt reduction in Nigeria,’’ he said.
The official said that leakages existing within financial architecture of Nigeria as a country, created a default opportunity for ineffective taxation and consequently failure in optimizing its revenue required for national development.
Rafsanjani said the solution to the financial architecture would be to make tax incentive productive and to reduce budget size and waste.
“This is the time to make good use of the incentive system to allow the private sector to fund the capital projects in the budget.
“It is also important to scrutinise the budget and weed out frivolous items as we always have them featured in the budget year-in year-out.
“This will also look at a possible reduction in the budget size and make it more reasonable and realistic as we are not in any budget increment contest,’’ he said.
He advised the Nigerian government to set up an economic team, noting that absence of such critical team left room for knee-jerk approach to economic policies and interventions.
The executive director said setting up an economic team should be considered a critical issue on which the nation’s economy depended.
“There should be a team that will come up with a robust plan that will be implementable and sustainable with a detailed steps toward economic recovery.
“This should include how all sectors will contribute effectively towards achieving the set goals as will be contained in the plan,’’ he said.
Rafsanjani also advised on setting up a procurement council, adding that the council would reduce the level of discretion and abuse of office in the nation’s contracting processes.
He said this had proved to the most potent drainpipe from which politically exposed persons allocated contracts to themselves and their cronies, allocated funds and never got the work done.
According to him, one of the major provisions of the Public Procurement Act of 2007 is that there must be a Public Procurement Council to oversee the nation’s procurement processes.
“But since over a decade now, this very important body has never been in place and that creates a lacuna in the procurement management process.
“We all agree that the contract award and management in the country which is a direct function of public procurement processes has been a thing of worry, considering the numerous irregularities allegedly found within the process.’’ (NAN)