House Seeks Direct Debit Payments of Utility Bills of MDAs

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By Adedayo Akinwale

The House of Representatives has said there is urgent need to establish and devise workable means of ensuring that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) pay their utility bills to the government through direct debit mechanism.

This, it said, would ensure debiting the accounts of all MDAs at the end of each month, in conjunction with the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.

The resolution of the House was sequel to the adoption of a motion moved by Hon. Kingsley Chima at the plenary Tuesday.

Presenting the motion, the lawmaker explained that Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is a major factor in the economic growth of every country and should at least represent 50 per cent of the gross national income of an economy of a country to be stable.

Chima said that Nigeria relies on about 90 per cent of externally generated revenue (EGR), through crude oil, as the source of the nation’s gross national income, adding that government also relies on payment of utility bills, like water and electricity bills as a major boost to its IGR.

The lawmaker expressed worry that the MDAs are often accused of not paying utility bills to the bodies responsible for the collection, thereby making it impossible to remit the funds to the government which has adverse effects on IGR.

Chima said investigations have revealed that these MDAs find it very difficult to pay their electricity and water bills; and when they do, they would pay in peanuts after years or months of accumulation.

Chima said: “Conscious of the urgent need to establish and devise workable means of ensuring that MDAs pay their utility bills to the government through direct debit mechanism of debiting the accounts of all MDA’s at the end of each month, in conjunction with the office of the Accountant General of the Federation”

He stressed that most MDAs even go as far as defending the payments of these utility bills during their budget defences; when they, in fact, actually owe the utility bills to the providers.

Chima stressed that the motion therefore called for a proper and the most convenient means of ensuring that these MDAs pay their bills without owing the providers.

The lawmaker stressed that it can also be argued that harnessing from the country’s untapped internally revenue generation would assist the lagging economy and hence reduce the continuous thirst for external borrowing.

The House therefore, “Mandate the Committees on Appropriation, Finance and Public Accounts to interface with the heads of the Ministries, Department and Agencies to initiate a workable strategic plan to enhance the efficient payment of monthly utility bills of all Ministries, Departments and Agencies and report back within eight weeks for further legislative action.”

The Hiuse said making the collection of the bills easy for the utility providers would in turn make it easy for the providers to play their own role of paying to the government its fees and charges, thereby boosting our internally generated revenue.