From Uche Usim, Abuja
As Nigeria struggles to exit recession, the World Bank has said it would work with the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) in achieving its mandate of promoting prudent management of the nation’s resources, ensure long term macro-economic stability and transparency in fiscal operations of the national economy.
The Lead Financial Management Specialist, Mr. Manuel Vargas, who led the World Bank identification mission on Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) stated this when the team paid a working visit to the commission’s headquarters in Abuja at the weekend.
According to Vargas, the team was in the country to support and render capacity assistance in the area of public finance management, transparency, accountability and national statistics development for the Federal Government.
He further said, “the World Bank would emphasise the issue of coordination and implementation and see how this operation can support that. They also need to make sure that there is a coordinated approach so that it can be cost-effective and impact-oriented,” he stated.
He said the bank was presently working with and supporting 21 states on public financial management, adding that the areas of support include revenue mobilisation, support of tax authorities, budgeting planning and execution, accounting expenditure control, financial reporting and increase of internally generated revenue.
Responding, the Chairman of Financial Reporting Commission, Mr. Victor Muruako, disclosed that in an effort to ensure accountability and transparency in government expenditure as enshrined in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, the commission is to establish Fiscal Responsibility Institute (FRI) to train financial officers in proper handling of government expenditure, especially in the area of revenue-raising policies, resource allocation decision and debt management decisions.
Said he: “The idea behind the FRI is to prevent corruption by ensuring that right things are done at the appropriate time. This is considered cheaper and most expedient. It is a project we must institutionalise even from college level.
There is also need for continuous education on the issue for officers managing government agencies.”
In carrying out its mandate, Muruako said the commission has developed strategic plans, part of which is to ensure that relevant agencies make remittances into the Federation Account for the federally collectible revenue while the Federal Government independent revenue, especially Operating Surplus, is paid into Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).
Another key thing in the plan is to ensure that more corporations are added to the schedule of the Act.
The FRI is also in the strategic plan, which will be used to benchmark the performances of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), he added.
Since its inauguration, Muruako said the commission has ensured that Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) is rigidly adapted to in the budgetary processes.