From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has queried the non-disclosure of the interest accrued on Nigeria’s foreign reserves accounts, saying inspite of spirited efforts by the parliament to know its state, it remains shrouded in secrecy.
Dogara who spoke when a delegation from the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), led by its acting chairman, Mr Victor Muruako, paid him a courtesy visit in his office, said that agencies like the FRC should be in custody of such figures for dissemination to the public when necessary.
The House had on December 15, 2015, passed a resolution calling on the Central Bank of Nigeria to declare interests accruable to the foreign reserves accounts of the federation.
“We earn interest on foreign reserves, like Botswana. Because they don’t have oil, it is the second highest revenue after resources earned from natural resources. You will see it as a budget item: interest earned from foreign reserves. In Nigeria, we have been asking the question, “are we earning or are we just running charity with it or just leave people to manage it? Are we capitalising the interest? What is the interest? Nobody has ever told us.”
“So which one is the government agency that you can run to and easily obtain this information? CBN, of course, is the one managing it. It is the custodian of the foreign reserves we have but the point is that if they are not forthcoming with regards to what has been happening with the interest earned on foreign reserves, there should be an agency of government that we can run to”, he said.
The Speaker noted that there is the urgent need for the government to properly fund the commission in order to deliver on its mandate and strengthen its powers which he said has the capacity to reduce corruption by over 80 percent.
Earlier, the chairman of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) urged the Speaker to facilitate the speedy amendment of its establishment Act to, among other things, empower the commission to retain a percentage of the operationing surplus it collects from ministries, departments and agencies of government on behalf of the federal government in order to boost its activities and grant it financial independence.