- Says farmers/herdsmen crises wonâ€™t affect 3.5% growth projection
Ndubuisi Francis and Udora Orizu in Abuja
A new performance management framework for revenue generating agencies is underway as the federal government seeks to plug loopholes that lend credence to under remittances by revenue generating agencies.
The Senate ad hoc committee on alleged misuse, under-remittance and other fraudulent activities had last year declared that revenue agencies short-changed the federal government to the tune of N1.7 trillion as unremitted revenue generated between 2012 and 2016.
The committee, in its interim report submitted to the Senate on October 19, 2017, stated that 26 agencies generated a total of N21, 909,831,657,897 between January 2012 and December 2016, adding that N1.695, 585,887,406 of the amount was not remitted to the federal government account by the agencies within the period.
Speaking in Abuja on wednesday at the maiden Budget Office dialogue with the media and civil society organisations (CSOs), the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation (BoF), Mr. Ben Akabueze, admitted that several ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) generate revenue, but fail to remit to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) as provided in the constitution.
He said: â€œSeveral MDAs generate revenue but do not remit to the CRF, and itâ€™s one of our major area of focus as we are going forward.â€
â€œWe are working to design and implement a new performance management framework for these MDAs and state-owned enterprises that will see them contributing.
â€œWe have refused to take the part of reducing the revenue projection from them. In the 2016 Budget, we projected a very ambitious N1.5 trillion for these agencies. By the time the year was over, we recorded less than N400 billion. In 2017, we took a hard look and realised that we were being overly ambitious and we reduced the projection to N807 billion.
â€œThe full year fiscal numbers are not out and I know that there is still a significant under-performance. For 2017, we put N847 billion, and a number of people has questioned the rationale for that decision, but we think that itâ€™s important to answer the question fundamentally.â€
According to him, the government wouldnâ€™t be asking for too much by telling the agencies to generate a revenue of N847 billion in a year, the same government having cumulatively invested about N40 trillion over the years on them.
The BoF DG noted that the amount in question (N847 billion) â€œis simply asking for a two per cent return on investment,â€ wondering whether it is unreasonable.
â€œWeâ€™ve chosen to hold fire on the target and to engage with these agencies to drive the performance and say this is not acceptable,â€ Akabueze said.
Responding to a question on why about 20 per cent of the 2018 budget went to the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, he stated that all of the service-wide votes are classified under the ministry.
â€œIt doesnâ€™t mean that the Ministry of Budget and National Planning spends them all or benefits from them.
â€œThe capital budget for the ministry and the agencies under the ministry which include the Budget Office, the National Bureau of Statistics, the ministry, among others aggregate the capital budget, and I can tell you the numbers and they donâ€™t quite add up to N6 billion,â€ Akabueze said.
Responding to a question on whether the 3.5 per cent growth projection for 2018 is realistic considering the impact of the farmers/herders crisis vis-a-vis the contribution of the agriculture sector, Akabueze said the crisis is localised.
â€œFirst of all, these are localised occurrences. As worrisome as they are , we do not think they will have such pervasive and adverse impact on the agriculture sector as to pulling down significant overall growth projection,â€ he argued.