The President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, has accused most revenue generating agencies in the country of failing to remit their funds to the Federation Account as and when due, warning that such fiscal abuse will no longer be tolerated.
Lawan who accused the revenue agencies of some lapses while speaking at the third convocation and award ceremony of the University of Benin/National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (UNIBEN/NILDS) Postgraduate Programme in Abuja, said that the 9th Assembly would ensure that the laws of the country are not violated with impunity by any agency of government.
According to him, to checkmate such flippant disregard to fiscal policy directives on timely remittance of revenues collected by the agencies, the National Assembly would begin to investigate and trace such un-remitted funds.
He explained: “The target of 29 October to end budget defence remains.Every subcommittee must ensure that ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) defend their budget.
“It’s not just about passing the budget and signing it. We will ensure that the budget passed is implemented. Nigeria gathered a lot of revenue but most of the revenue-generating agencies do not remit the money.”
In a related development, President Muhammadu Buhari has also directed the agencies to immediately commence on cost-reduction measures in their revenue generating operations with a view to optimizing the ongoing revenue generation drive for national development.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who gave this hint said that already “we are seeing a forward movement and the president has given a directive that the government-owned enterprises must reduce their cost-to-income ratio by 60:40.
According to her, in the past some of the agencies that generate revenue used to spend almost about 95 per cent as expenditure, saying that the President’s directive will be strictly enforced to reverse the ugly trend and block leakages in the revenue collections at all levels.
The minister, while admitting that there were some challenges being encountered in government’s revenue drive, believes that initiatives like the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative (SRGI), and others ill help to address the challenges.
She explained: “We do have a revenue problem in Nigeria. We launched the SRGI to address the revenue challenges that we have. So, you would see that we have several initiatives that we put together which were assigned to different portfolio agencies, including the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria Customs Service as well as the NNPC.
“We have also put in place a monitoring mechanism to enhance the tracking of the performance of those agencies and both the FIRS and Customs as well as ourselves are using automation to enhance the collection performance of revenue collecting agencies.
“If you remember in 2015, the average revenue performance was 55 per cent. So, we are seeing revenue performance inching up very slowly but at some point, we expect a much faster progression. Half year 2019, the revenue performance was 58 per cent”, the minister added.