Lawmakers Fume over FG’s Plan to Borrow N5.62tn, Tackle MDAs Hiding Revenue

*As NPA, FRC disagree on N255bn liability

Udora Orizu in Abuja
The House of Representatives yesterday expressed displeasure over the way some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) conceal their revenues, thereby denying the federal government the much-needed fund to fund its annual budget.

The Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Hon. James Faleke, who made this known at the ongoing public hearing on the 2022/2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), also condemned the federal government’s plan to borrow N5.62 trillion to finance the 2022 budget, while the MDAs starve the government of fund.

He said, “We are not happy with you with the way Nigeria is borrowing N5.62 trillion and we have some fund somewhere staying fallow without being used. For God’s sake, let us build this country together for the sake of all of us.”

The lawmaker said the House of Representatives would be more interested in how much government agencies could save, saying the major problem facing the country was revenue generation.
He stressed that if the committee discovered that any of the agencies’ capital projects were unnecessary, they would be removed in a bid to get revenue for the country.

The committee also directed the Nigeria Communication Commission to provide the turnover of the amount realised from all network operators from 2018 to 2020.
Faleke, said this would enable the committee to look at their records and be able to determine if the revenue proposal for 2022 to 2024 would be good for the country.

Meanwhile, in its presentation, the Head of Monitoring, Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), Bello Gulmare, disclosed that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has not been keeping to date with the submission of its audited accounts.
He said, ”The NPA has only submitted up to 2018 audited financial statement. We are yet to receive 2019 and 2020. Their liability is N255 billion. Their general liability is N235 billion. In our record, we have remittances of N179.6 billion, that gives rise to net operating surplus of N255 billion.”

But, NPA’s General Manager Finance, Emeka Ezengwu, argued that the FRC has an outdated account, hence the N255 billion liability.

He also assured the lawmakers that the agency was on course in terms of revenue generation, adding that it was targeting N338 billion as revenue in 2022.
According to him, “2019 has already been approved by the board, 2020 is ongoing. The FRC has not done any reconciliation with the NPA in the past four years. The figure he is brandishing does not align with what we have. We have done reconciliation with Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC). We are also engaging the Accountant General Office right now and we have a letter from them inviting us for reconciliation.”

In his ruling, the Chairman of the Committee, Faleke, while stressing that said FRC was empowered by the constitution to monitor remittances, advised the NPA to reconcile with the latter before their report is laid before the National Assembly.

“By law, when it comes to remittances, this office (FRC) is superior to the Accountant General Office. This is a constitutional office, it is not just created by an act of the National Assembly. It is important that you reconcile with the FRC, you should be eager to reconcile them.

“If their report is laid before the National Assembly, and you are found wanting, it has consequences. So, reconcile within two weeks.
“We have ruled that we need a comprehensive list of all agreements reached by NPA with its tenant, indicating how much each of those tenants are supposed to be paying on a monthly or annual basis and copies of the agreements be attached. We need all the account details of the JVC accounts,” he said.

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