The Senate has threatened to sanction heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) who fail to appear before the relevant joint committee on Finance and National Planning to defend the 2021 budget.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Solomon Adeola, while kicking off a public hearing on the 2021-2023 Medium Expenditure Framework warned that the agencies would get zero allocations in the 2021 budget should heads of the MDAs fail to appear in person and defend funds generated and expended by their establishments.
“The 2021-2023 MTEF/FSP was sent to the Senate on July 20 for consideration by President Mohammadu Buhari preparatory to the presentation of the 2021 Appropriation bill. And in line with the desire to achieve early passage of the budget to be in tandem with the January-December budget cycle, the Senate referred the MTEF/FSP to the Joint Committee for consideration even while members are on recess. Any head of agencies that refused to appear before the Committee to defend figures it submitted as presented by the President to the Senate risks a zero allocation in the incoming budgeted among other penalties,” he said.
He said the senate would not allow representatives to stand in for their bosses, without tangible reasons, which must be approved by the committee.
Adeola said the public hearing would last for five days and that ministers and heads of various MDAs would be grilled during the interface.
Among the agencies specifically mentioned by the Senate Joint Committee chairman whose heads are to appear on Thursday are Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigeria Communication Commission and Nigeria Shippers Council.
Meanwhile, Senator Ayo Akinyelure has alleged that some officials of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) were frustrating efforts by consultants hired to collect accurate fees from expatriates as residents permit.
“We have more than 15 million immigrants in the country. As we speak only less than 20 per cent of the figure are being captured by the consultants because the NIS officials are frustrating them from capturing many of them. They are collecting money through backdoor. We need to invite the Minister of Interior, the consultants and the NIS,” he said.
Aisha Binani said when the issue of resident permit for non-Nigerians started, the cost of obtaining one was $350.
“The contract was between the Federal Government, Ministry of Interior through the Nigerian Immigration Service and the consultant. It later jumped to $700 per person. From then, it jumped to $1, 000 and finally to $2,000. There is no fix rate for the naira. Most of the foreigners earned their income in naira here because there is a ban on the payment of dollar to expatriates. If they earn their pay in naira and they pay resident permit in dollar, the official exchange is N380 to $. For the non-Nigerians to renew their permit, they would pay N380 in 2000 places which is a huge amount. The consultants are determining the review of the permit fee.”
Chairman of the Finance Committee, Adeola, stressed the need for a more elaborate investigation on the issue.
“We would take enough information today and after the consideration of MTEF / FSP, the Committee will come up with a proper investigation into the revenue sources of the NIS,” he said.