It’s a tough time to be a Nigerian government official. The nation is not making a lot of money, the economy is experiencing a downturn, and there is heightened expectation from the people due to the promises made during the electioneering season. When the federal executive council met on Wednesday for the first meeting of 2016, the major thing they discussed was how to rake in more revenue from government departments, agencies and parastatals to fund the 2016 proposed N6.08 trillion budget.
This was disclosed by the finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, after the meeting. “The principal discussion in our meeting today was the initiative by this administration to plug revenue leakages in our MDAs that generate revenue. The presentation to FEC was to remind ministers who supervise these revenue-generating boards of their responsibilities under the Fiscal Responsibility Act,” she said.
Normally, revenue generating agencies and corporations are supposed to generate surplus and put 80 percent in the nation’s Consolidated Revenue Fund because the salaries of their workers and overhead are taken care of by the FG. A lot of these agencies were not doing this in the past however. They were spending almost all they made “haphazardly”, and the government did not do enough to effect the law when the times were good. The minister said all that will change.
Adeosun said that it has been discovered that many agencies have never credited anything to national purse as operating surplus even when their salaries, overheads, capital is paid by the federal government.
“So one of the big initiatives and changes of this administration is to bring all those agencies into line, to insist that they must submit a budget and that budget must be subject to approval and they must operate within that budget so that the surplus that is meant to come to the federal government can be seen to be used as appropriate,” Adeosun said.
“We are reining them in and making sure that the money generated for all Nigerians is spent according to approval and any surplus then comes into the CRF to be used to fund other areas of government.
“In addition, ministers had been tasked with the job of ensuring that budgets of departments and agencies under their supervision are not inflated.
“We also discussed that in some cases, because some agencies have a track record and history of making sure that every naira they earned is spent, that we will go in and audit agencies under Section 107 (8) of the Financial Regulations. The Accountant-General, who is under the Ministry of Finance has the powers to go in and make inquiries about how public money is spent, so we will be sending in auditors to some agencies where we believe everything that their cost is simply excessive and not in keeping with our expectations,” she said.
Adeosun said ministers and heads of agencies would defend their budgetary allocations with possible amendments while the administration would not condone padding of budgetary allocations. She however denied allegations that the 2016 Budget has not been withdrawn from the National Assembly by the Federal Executive Council.
“Let me just speak to you about the budget process. You know the budget is presented to the NASS and then there is what we call an interactive budget approval process and you know the agencies will still go and defend their budget at the NASS.
“But let me make it very clear the budget is not being withdrawn or replaced, the budget has been presented and will go through normal process whereby MDAs defend their budgets.
“It is possible in the process of that, because as you know the legislature is not a rubber stamp, their job is to scrutinize the budget and to approve that budget. So there may be some changes that occur as a result of that interactive process. But that process is normal everywhere in the world where a budget is presented. So I think it is important to make that clarification,” said Adeosun