By Udora Orizu
The Chairman of Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Mr. Elias Mbam, yesterday disclosed that following a nationwide monitoring exercise on the Solid Minerals sector with the aim of examining royalty collections to the Federation Account for the period 2009 to 2015, it has shown that the country was losing an estimated revenue of about N1.3 trillion annually.
Mbam, made the disclosure when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Finance, to defend the commission’s 2021 budget proposal.
He explained that the analysis of the exercise, which is still ongoing, was carried out on 10 mineral type, namely: Gold, Tin-ore, Coal, Columbite, Kaolin Crude, Lead, Gypsum, Tantalite Crude, Zinc and Manganese, taking into consideration their qualities, quantities and their international value.
Mbam also revealed that the commission, during the monitoring, verification and reconciliation exercise on revenue collections and remittances by commercial banks, companies and collecting agencies, also recovered the sum of N75 billion.
Similarly, he said the commission in collaboration with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in 2020 conducted an exercise on reconciliation and recovery of tax liabilities owed the Federation Account from 2008 to 2019 by some federal ministries, agencies and department (MDAs, states and their MDAs and local government councils respectively, saying the exercise is ongoing and over N79 billion liabilities has been established.
Speaking further, Mbam, in a bid to reduce the cost of governance, emphasised the need for the review of the remuneration package for political, public and judicial office holder.
He said: ‘’The cost of governance in Nigeria is very high, and has continued to be on the increase. This is unsustainable as no country can develop with such high level of recurrent expenditure. Some of the reasons responsible for this include duplication of agencies of government with virtually similar functions and responsibilities, corruption, unlimited number of political appointments, wasteful spending, and ghost workers syndrome among others.
“Recommendations to ensure cost reduction include avoiding unnecessary duplications of agencies with similar functions, reduction in number of political appointees to the barest minimum as recommended in the commission’s remuneration package, strict compliance with approved remuneration packages of office holders, and ensuring prudent spending of government funds.’’
He also stressed the need for effective operation and management of the Federation Account, saying the overwhelming powers conferred on the office of the Accountant General of the Federation has failed to yield positive results.
In the bid to minimize the challenges in the petroleum industry, he called for speedy consideration of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) without further delay, “as it will go a long way to facilitate the restructuring of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to improve the federation revenue and management of the sector.
Responding, the Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Hon. James Faleke, asked the commission to come up with the information regarding the recovery of N75 billion.
The lawmaker also tasked the commission on the need to synergise with FIRS in its quest to block leakages.