Reps mull amend­ment to Fis­cal Re­spon­si­bil­ity Act to block rev­enue leak­ages

... want im­proved fund­ing for health­care, ed­u­ca­tion, oth­ers in 3 years

Business Day (Nigeria) - - NEWS - JAMES KWEN, Abuja

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.

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