•2 weeks after FG raised the alarm of under-remitting
Two weeks after the Federal Government accused the revenue-generating agencies of under-remitting billions of naira yearly, the Senate yesterday raised a committee to investigate. The committee has six weeks to submit its report.
The Senate constituted a six-man high-powered adhoc committee to investigate the agencies.
The setting up of the committee followed a motion tagged: “Urgent Need to Investigate Revenue Generation Agencies for Non-remittance of Generated Revenue,” sponsored by Senator Solomon Adeola, who was also appointed to head it.
Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun had last month accused revenue generating agencies of diverting revenues. There are over 30 agencies collecting revenue for the government.
Senate President Bukola Saraki, while setting up the committee, frowned at the leakages. He said revenue agencies generate over N1.5 trillion last year, but delivered less than N500 billion.
Saraki said: “As I keep on hammering, independent revenue and non-oil revenue are very important areas of our budget. This independent revenue is 37 per cent. You remember that last year it was almost N1.5 trillion and am being told now that this year it is likely to come down to N500 billion because they could not meet the target.
“The inability to meet the target is not that they do not have the capacity to meet the target. The problem is that there is too much abuse on this operating surpluses where people spend up to the last naira in all. I think the best way forward is for us to address this issue in blocking these leakages and I believe that in constituting the adhoc committee, we would just take the best hands and still bring people from Finance and Public Accounts Committees.”
In his remarks, Senator Adeola said all revenues and monies raised or received are expected to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation. He said the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007 was enacted to ensure transparency, accountability and to prevent corrupt practices in relation to public revenues and expenditure.
He expressed worry that government-owned companies have over the years grossly violated the letters of the 1999 Constitution and the Fiscal Responsibility Act in relation to their revenue generation activities and expenditures.
“The various audit queries against these agencies over the years further indicate possible mismanagement of public funds against the spirit of the Constitution and Fiscal Responsibility Act.
“In view of Federal Government’s dwindling revenues from the traditional crude oil sector and the on-going recession, these government bodies are continuing in short-changing government of needed revenue through various illegal practices,” Senator Adeola said.
Contributing, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, said there was the need to review the existing laws setting up the agencies. He said if the revenues generated are carefully monitored, there may not be any need to borrow money to fund the budget.
Ekweremadu said: “We have a lot of leakages. I think it is time for us to look back and look at those laws. We need to look at those laws and review them. We are talking about borrowing money to fund the budget, whereas, monies generated are going into private pockets.
Another contributor, Senator Ahmad Lawan, said: “Some of these agencies have their Acts supported by law. We have to amend these laws. Another thing we can do is to intensify our oversight. We need to know how these agencies utilise the funds. Many of these agencies are just there. We should be looking at reducing these agencies so that those that will be left to collect revenues will be thoroughly supervised.”