Senate has said that over N3 trillion of generated revenue of the government has not been remitted to the Federation account by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs of government. According to the Senator Olamilekan Adeola, led Senate Committee on Finance that discovered this said that the said amount had already been spent on frivolous expenditures contrary to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic and the Fiscal Responsibility Act(FRA),2007. The non remittance was discovered during the on going investigations by the Committee into revenue remittances by over 700 Ministries, Departments and Agencies(MDAs) of Federal Government.
Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants(ICAN) and Charted Institute of Taxation also made the disclosure over the weekend when the Committee met with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed alongside the Director General of Budget Office, Ben Akabueze and the Auditor General of the Federation, Mr. Idris Ahmed with other heads of agencies appeared before the committee on the ongoing investigation into revenue remittances by MDAs between 2014-2020 and payment of 1% Stamp Duty on all contract awards by the MDAs within the same period. Speaking at the meeting, Senator Adeola said that he invited the minister, the DG, Budget Office and the Accountant General of the Federation to get their full buy-in and brief them on the revelations unearthed by the over four weeks long investigations with many agencies committing all manner of illegalities relating to the expenditure of government funds that should rightly be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, CRF.
According to him, most of the agencies abuse the concept of operating surpluses to shortchange government as well as relying on ministerial circulars over and above the Constitution and FRA,2007 as passed by the National Assembly. Adeola said, “Honourable Minister in view of the huge budget deficits accompanying our yearly budgets and the resort to huge borrowing to finance these deficits, the committee decided to probe into the revenue remittances by agencies of government as the government cannot continue to borrow yearly while the revenue from agencies that the government is financing with the borrowings are spent contrary to the laws of the land.”, he stated. The Senate Finance Committee chairman told the minister that from submissions already made and calculations from the Fiscal Responsibility Commission, about 60 Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs), may have about N3Trillion of government revenue still unremitted in their coffers or already spent on frivolous expenditure contrary to the Constitution and FRA, 2007, adding that since the commencement of the investigations some agencies have been directed and complied in paying back tens of millions of naira with receipts from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
He said, “There is no gainsaying the fact that if these revenues are paid to the CRF for proper appropriation by the Parliament during budget considerations, we are going to reduce dramatically the size of our deficit and hopefully minimize our borrowing. We cannot continue to run government business as we used to do in this time when there are huge demands for government to fund needed infrastructure and other socio-economic programmes.” Senator Adeola further revealed that the investigation has also led to the willing exit of some agencies, notably among them NAFDAC, NIGCOMSAT, NOTAP and NEREC, from the budget of the government while relying on their generated revenue to fund aspects of their operations adding that this will reduce their dependence on federation budget and assist in reducing budget deficits.
In her contribution, Zainab Ahmed who commended the committee for the ongoing probe of revenue remittances, however acknowledged that in recent times there has be noticeable increase in revenue from agencies directed to pay in revenue to the CRF as required by the law, adding that the executive arms of government are also scrutinising the application of the template of calculating and deducting operating surpluses by agencies of government to ensure that the right amount are paid to the government.
On his part, the DG, Budget Office, Akabueze, clarified that the issue of operating surpluses does not apply to any government agencies that are fully funded by the government as all revenue generated by such agencies must be paid in full into the CRF adding that it is illegal to spend a dime of such money without appropriation by the National Assembly.
The Senate Committee which continues its investigations on agencies already scheduled to appear before it this week, thereafter set up a committee comprising of representatives from the Offices of the Minister of Finance, the Budget Office, Accountant General of the Federation, the Auditor General of the Federation and Fiscal Responsibility Commission to reconcile the accounts of some agencies running into billions of naira to determine how much was due to the CRF following contradictions in their submissions.