From JOSHUA I. EGBODO, Abuja
THE House of Representatives Committee on Finance has given the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and 13 other organisations until this morning to appear and explain how they generate and expend their internal revenues.
However, the Committee dramatically asked Mr. Abatcha Bulama, the Director of Finance at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) who represented the Director-General, Arunma Oteh to walk out of the meeting on the grounds that the House of Representatives had in the past asked for the removal of Oteh, or it would have no dealing of any kind with SEC.
The House had while adopting report of the investigation into the near collapse of the nation’s capital market, asked President Goodluck Jonathan to relieve Oteh of her appointment as Director-General of SEC, citing lack of the requisite qualification as the major reason.
“We mistakenly advertise your name for this meeting; as you are aware, the House has resolved not to have anything to do with you for now, so you may kindly take your leave now, we wish you well,” the Chairman told Bulama.
The Committee had invited about 60 revenue generating agencies of government with a view to ascertaining their internally generated revenue and remittances to government, but 15 of the invited agencies failed to turn up at the meeting.
The action however prompted the committee Chairman, Abdulmumin Jibril to issue the 24-hour ultimatum, warning that, a bench warrant of arrest would be issued against chief executives of the concerned agencies if the directive was not complied with.
Other organisations that did not have any representative at the meeting include the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), National Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the National Export Processing Zones (NEPZ).
Also invited but failed to turn up were the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), the National Pension Commission, the Nigeria Customs Service, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority and the Maritime Administration Agency.
Declaring the event open earlier, Speaker of the House, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal blamed disruption of national budgeting process on failure of revenue generating agencies to remit funds to the Federation Account as spelt out by law.
“For far too long, the menace of revenue leakages has dominated the finances of our country to the detriment of our economy and wellbeing of the people of Nigeria. The Constitution and our laws on revenue generation and expenditure has been observed more in breach. For the avoidance of doubts, the Constitution has provided elaborate methods of revenue collection, revenue remittances and expenditure approvals,” Tambuwal who was represented by the Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha stated.
According to the Speaker, “a situation where actual government revenue and expenditure is unknown because revenue earning agencies of government spend the funds as they deem fit can no longer be tolerated. A situation where over 50 per cent of actual government revenue is spent outside the national annual budget has put Nigeria in a fiscal crises.
“It makes our Budgeting System inefficient, ineffectual, and opaque. It does not promote accountability, transparency, responsiveness and openness that is the hallmark of a democratic government. This should not, and cannot be allowed to continue.”
Also in his welcome remarks, Chairman of the Committee, Abdulmumin Jibril said the meeting was specifically targeted at fact finding to enable the committee make the needed input to the fiscal framework of the country.
He explained that government gross collectible revenue figure “has been understated as it does not capture the gross revenue collections of various government owned organizations and only reflects a net operating surplus position.”
He also stated that “For example, if a corporation earns 100 billion Naira internally generated revenue and spends 90 billion Naira, it then has an operating surplus of 10 billion Naira. In line with the Fiscal responsibility Act, the corporation is entitled to retain two billion Naira in its general reserve, while eight billion Naira should be paid to the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government,” but this has not been the practice.
From JOSHUA I. EGBODO, Abuja