Saraki recalls diversion of N1.5tn in 2015
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Senate yesterday set up a six-member ad hoc committee to investigate revenue generating agencies over allegations of abuse, misuse, under remittance/non-remittance of revenues and other fraudulent practices from 2012 to 2016.
Moving a motion on the matter yesterday, Senator Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos West) said whereas all revenues and monies raised or received by the agencies ought to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation in accordance with provisions of extant laws, the agencies have been violating the letters of the 1999 Constitution and the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) 2007.
He recalled that FRA 2007 was enacted to guarantee transparency, accountability and also prevent corrupt practices in relation to public revenues and expenditure, lamenting that the agencies have cultivated the acts of mismanaging the nation’s funds.
“The various audit queries against these agencies over the years further indicates 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,” Adeola noted.
In his contribution, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, called for the review of laws setting up the agencies, pointing out that if the revenues being generated by the agencies are carefully monitored, there may not be any need to borrow money to fund the budget.
Also speaking, Senator Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North) backed Ekweremadu’s comment that the laws should be reviewed.
He also suggested the need to reduce the number of existing agencies to enhance their efficiencies.
He 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.”
The motion lent credence to the accusation by federal government a fortnight ago that revenue generating agencies were siphoning money.
Earlier, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, had accused revenue generating agencies of diverting revenues they generate.
In his remark, Senate President Bukola Saraki who named Adeola as chairman of the ad hoc committee, lamented how revenue agencies generated over N1.5 trillion last year only to deliver 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 I’m being told now that this year 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 ad hoc committee, we would just take the best hands and still bring people from Finance and Public Accounts Committees.”
The committee has six weeks to conclude its assignment and report findings back to the Senate.