Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The House of Representatives has directed the Budget Office of the Federation to deduct the allocations of defaulting revenue generating agencies that were under-remitting revenue to the federal government.
It said the federal government was losing huge revenue to under-remittances of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) by government agencies, saying if agencies of the government were remitting adequate revenue, the government would have no business resorting to borrowing to finance the budget annually.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, Hon. James Faleke, gave the directive yesterday during an interactive session with government agencies on the 2021-2023 MTEF/FSP.
The committee frowned at the loss of over N7 billion to under-remittances from the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), stressing that there was no law that permits any agency of the government to spend the money it generates without the approval of the National Assembly.
The committee had discovered a revenue of about N10 billion generated by the agency from which nothing was remitted to the government treasury on the premise that the money was spent by the agency on inspection of factories of clients of the agency who want to either establish a factory or want to import products.
The Director of Administration and Human Resources, NAFDAC, who represented the Director-General of the agency, Joseph Aina, claimed that they obtained the permission of the Budget Office of the Federation to spend the money generated through its user fee platform.
The chairman of the committee stated: “You are talking about user fees and that you use it to travel either locally or internationally. Don’t you have your overhead budget? Don’t you know that in your activities, you are going to travel and that you will present your overhead budget.“When you are bringing your budget, you know your activities. Every agency is aware of their activities and one of your activities is that you need to carry out inspection which should have formed part of your overhead expenses, and the government will release the money to you.
“But the fact that you have a shortfall in releases does not empower you to spend your IGR. No agency of the government is empowered to do that. Not even the Ministry of Finance or even the president. It is clear. The president will tell you to go and do it according to the law.
“It is not right that the government is losing about N7 billion to your expenditure. Tell madam (DG) that we will not take it. She is there to reform the system and we trust that she will do that. But you cannot spend the IGR the way you like.
“If you do that, the accounting officer can be prosecuted and we as National Assembly will see to that. In the past few weeks, we have been talking about Chinese loans when we have money in the system. We have the money in Nigeria, but we are not doing the needful.
“We are not remitting what we are supposed to remit. The private sector will not remit the taxes, and the government agencies, being paid salaries, will not remit. Where will the government get the money to fund the capital projects when we have deficit budget every year?
“I don’t think it is fair on the system. An agency came here and said they will generate N100 million, but will spend N130 million. How do you do that?
“The Budget Office of the Federation should deduct the balance of such under-remittances from allocation to such defaulting agencies. It is not fair to the system for agencies both in the private and public sector to refuse to remit revenue to the government.”
Also, the Accountant General of the Federation has directed the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to refund about N52 billion it deducted from the Federations Account to the government treasury as operating surplus for 2018.