Uche Usim, Abuja
Challenged by dwindling revenue and crippling debt amid the COVID-19 pestilence, the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) on Tuesday began a training programme for treasury officers who will be deployed to strategic Federal Government Owned Enterprises (FGOEs) as Revenue Directors to help swell government’s purse.
The move also tackles the perennial challenge of low remittance revenue generating agencies have been accused of.
In the pilot phase, 10 federal agencies have been penciled down where Revenue Directors from OAGF will be posted to.
The agencies are; Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Nigeria Shippers’ (NSC), Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
Speaking at the commencement of a three-day training programme for the Revenue Directors, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said the government has been compelled to improve revenue generation, especially in the non-oil sector, to fund the country’s huge expenditure.
Ahmed charged the Directors of Revenue to remain above board as they would be involved in the revenue operations of the FGOEs.
She urged them to learn fast and have an understanding of the business processes and operations of the FGOEs to realise improved transparency and accountability in revenue reporting by the FGOEs.
‘It is a fact that oil revenue is an exogenous variable to us and is highly volatile. Continuous reliance on it would mean that our public expenditures will always be dwindled by the shock in the global oil market price which is not within our control. One of the possible solutions is to look into the non-oil revenues, take advantage of the potentials and make it robust. We have seen the results on the increase in VAT through the Finance Act 2019 and efforts in diversifying the revenue base of government by the revenue generating agencies,’ she said.
‘An important sector with huge potentials is the revenue generation by the Federal Government Owned Entities. You may all wish to know that analysis of budgets of some of the Federal Government Owned Entities shows that these FGOEs have the capacities, if properly managed, to significantly improve the revenue base of the federal government.
‘It is in this light that the deployment of the Treasury Directors is considered expedient to the selected FGOEs as a pilot test.’
She explained that the deployment of Directors of Revenue to the FGOEs is in compliance with Presidential approval that was conveyed via SGF’s circular reference SGF.50/S.3/C.9/24 dated 16th October, 2018 on the approved Revenue Performance Management Framework for Government Owned Enterprises (FGOEs). The government is increasingly concerned with the dwindling profile of Revenue and this trend has to be quickly arrested particularly with Key revenue generating agencies of the government,’ she said.
The Minister admonished Revenue Directors being deployed to ensure strict adherence to extant rules and regulations in the areas of compliance to approved budget and due process mechanism in procurement and payments.
She said their tasks will be aided with the deployment of Information Technology.
‘The Integrated Revenue Monitoring System is being put in place to help the monitoring of the revenues of the FGOEs online real-time and to ensure its improved transparency and accountability. This programme is designed as an orientation to the officers that will be posted as Directors of Revenues and is hoped that this will help them to discharge their duties effectively and efficiently and most importantly in utmost good faith.
‘As civil servants, you are the drivers and the most vital machinery of Government policies. There is the need to continually evolve new ideas to solidify its role and boost its Capacity as the main bridge between Government and the citizenry. To ensure the success of this plausible initiative, it is important that we take the ownership of it. It is hoped that this will eventually promote and enhance service delivery,’ she added.
Earlier in his remarks, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, noted that the move will help in the review of the current systems, policies and procedures in government revenue administration and management.
‘The policy is a reform initiative aimed at generating more revenue and associated remittance into the government treasury and to also improve the operational performance of all GOEs. Hitherto, Government has noted that a number of GOEs remit less operating surpluses to the Consolidated Revenue Fund than is required by law and/or Financial Regulations,’ he said.