Ndubuisi Francis and James Emejo in Abuja
No fewer than 50 Government-Owned Enterprises (GOEs) are yet to remit about N2.78 trillion into the Federation Account as operating surpluses in line with the provisions of extant laws.
Some of the GEOs and agencies identified to be owing operating surpluses include the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which is said to owe N801.18 billion; Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA),N1.34 trillion; Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), N30.85 million; Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC), N11.99 billion and National Examination Council (NECO),N16.33 billion.
Others are NIMASA,N192.10 billion; Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) N8.81 billion, among others.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007, mandates any government agency that generates revenue to remit 80 per cent of its operating surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) account.
Sections 21 and 22 of the Act state that government corporations and agencies shall, not later than six months from the commencement of the Act and every three financial years thereafter and not later than the end of the second quarter of every year, cause to be prepared and submitted to the finance minister their schedule estimates of revenue and expenditure for the next three financial years.
Contrary to these provisions, the federal government disclosed yesterday that despite an investment of about N40 trillion in the Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs) over the years, they had only been able to pay an “insignificant” amount as operating surpluses into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).
The Director General, Budget Office of the Federation (BoF), Mr. Ben Akabueze, who spoke at a town hall meeting with chief executives of government enterprises on the new Revenue Performance Management Framework for GOEs, said the enterprises were yet to remit about N2.78 trillion.
Quoting figures from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, he noted that over 50 companies currently owe about N2.78 trillion to the Federation Account as operating surpluses.
He noted that there could be some discrepancies as some may have offset part of their indebtedness.
However, Akabueze said the situation had resulted to huge revenue challenges for government, particularly for the provision of basic infrastructure for Nigerians.
He said government is currently under-investing in critical sectors including education and health largely because of paucity of funds.
Akabueze noted that efforts were being intensified towards bridging the infrastructural gaps through borrowing.
Giving an insight into revenue performance of the federation account inflows between 2015 and 2018, he stated that out of the N847.95 billion approved as independent revenue of the federal government in the 2018 budget, actual collection stood at about N302.66billion as at September while performance stood at 36 percent.
He noted that in 2015 when the approved budget was N489.29 billion, actual collection peaked at N354.03 billion with 72.4 per cent performance.
However, in 2016, when approved federal budget was N1.50 trillion, actual collection was N398 billion with a performance of 26.4 per cent.
Also, in 2017, although approved budget stood at N847.95 billion, actual revenue collection was recorded at N216 billion. The BoF DG also lamented that the country’s revenue to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was less than eight per cent compared to 16 per cent for some countries in Africa.
He said presently, revenue collection by the federal government and the 36 states of the federation stood at 12 per cent of GDP against an average of 22 per cent.
“We have not made the required progress in revenue generation,” he said.
Akabueze further said the present administration’s commitment to diversifying the economy away from oil through the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) was being constrained by the “continuous underperformance of the GOEs,” which had “made it difficult to achieve enhanced domestic revenue mobilisation from operating surpluses of the GOEs.”
He said a critical element of the ERGP was the improvement in domestic revenue drive through innovation in both tax policies and collection as well as significant turnaround in the performance of publicly owned enterprises.
But he stressed that there had been concerns about the “financial performance of GOEs which had necessitated the Executive Order 2 of 2017 and the circular ref SGF. 50/S.3/C.9/24 recently issued by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).”
According to him, going forward, President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered that urgent corrective action be taken to reposition the GEOs towards actualising government’s objectives.
He said out of the total projected sum of N807.57 billion independent revenues in 2017, “only N216.66 billion, representing 26.8 per cent was remitted by GOEs and revenue generating MDAs.”
“Remittances and collections by government agencies should contribute more significantly to FGN’s revenue,” he added.