Reps mull amendment to Fiscal Responsibility Act to block revenue leakages
... want improved funding for healthcare, education, others in 3 years
In its Revised Legislative Agenda, the House of Representatives has indicated plans to initiate an amendment of the 2007 Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) to require revenue generating agencies deposit at least 80 percent of their revenues into the Consolidated Revenue Funds (CRF) rather than their operating surplus, which they arbitrarily determine as of today.
The Revised Legislative Agenda document submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari, seen by Businessday, is not yet in public domain.
The House also wants to introduce a Bill that would ensure effective coordination of donors and efficient/judicious use of all funds from foreign Official Development Assistance (ODA). The intended donor bill is also to ensure that all donor assistance align with development plans, while placing priority on the engagement of Nigerian development practitioners/local experts in the implementation of donor programmes.
Nigeria’s ninth House of Representatives had launched its legislative agenda last year November, which intended to among others, take necessary legislative steps to address national challenges, poverty, infrastructure decline, waste of resources, revenue leakage and corruption.
But the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken toll on all spheres of national live, particularly the economy, had stalled the attainment of those goals, necessitating an updated agenda that would carter for the emerging trends.
The Updated Legislative Agenda, which was presented to President Muhammadu Buhari by the speaker of the
House, intends to initiate, pass and codify special interventions/legislations in response to impacts of COVLD-19 on the economy.
Some of the interventions as outlined in the new agenda include stimulus packages, tax rebates, loan repayment waivers, especially for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMES) and passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to improve efficiency, reduce wastage and limit corruption in the petroleum sector.
The new agenda are also to promote SMES in the country by mandating that a percentage of all Federal Government contracts be awarded to indigenous small and medium-sized enterprises and ensuring that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAS) of government are in full compliance with the Local Content Laws of the federation.
Of all these, the amendment of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), 2007 and Donors Coordination Bill is expedient to check leakages and funds wastage as well as promote accountability and transparency, experts say.
As it is presently, the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007, mandates any government agency that generates revenue to remit 80 percent of its operating surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) account, instead of the generated revenues.
According to experts, the amendment of the Fiscal Responsibility Act will save a situation where revenue generating agencies spend huge percentage of funds generated on their expenditure, remitting a fraction to the national purse.
Tope Fasua, CEO, Global Analytic Consult, says amending the FRA has become important because recent probes have revealed gross misappropriation of funds by most MDAS.