Blocking 90% of revenue leakages achievable with sufficient legislation

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Nigerian Senate

By Anthony Otaru

Stakeholders have again stressed that the federal government could achieve 90 per cent success
in lockage of revenue leakages if relevant sections of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) 2007
are amended.
It will be recalled that the act establishing the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) aimed at
ensuring that revenue-raising policies, resource allocation decisions and debt management
decisions were undertaken in a prudent, transparent and timely fashion.
Section 2 of the Act compels any person or government institution to disclose information
relating to public revenue and expenditure and cause an investigation into whether any
provisions of the act have been violated
Over the years, however, several sections of the Act have been flouted mostly by ministries,
departments and agencies (MDAs) resulting in financial losses to the government.
Angered by the development, the FRC, in collaboration with civil society organisations and other
stakeholders sponsored a bill for amendment to the 8th and 9th National Assembly. In both
cases, the bill could not reach the final stage of the lawmaking process.
Speaking to journalists on the advantages of the bill if finally amended, the FRC Director of
Legal Services, Charles Abana, said government would have achieved, at least, 90 per cent
blockage to government revenue leakages every year. He said: “Now that the bill is yet to be
amended, the commission’s hands are tied. We go out for inspection of government projects; we
come and we submit our recommendations to the Office of the Attorney-General, with
punishment and sanctions recommended. We don’t have power to punish or prosecute in line
with the provisions of the act. We only bark but cannot bite. But sincerely speaking, if the act is
amended and we are given powers to prosecute and bite, I can assure you that the commission
will meet its over N2 trillion yearly revenue target by government.”

Abana

 

According to Abana, but for the N1 trillion remitted to the consolidated revenue in 2022, the
commission has consistently remitted a paltry of between N500 million and N600 million to the
federation account yearly. He listed other benefits the commission will derive from the
amendments including harmonization of staff salary structure, cleaning up some errors in the
existing act, a five per cent benefit from the operating surplus and the ability to engage new staff.
Also contributing, the Lead Director, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Eze Onyekpere, said
that the government has no choice but to ensure the FRC Act is amended and passed into law if
the loopholes of corruption must be blocked. He said: “We are saying that the time has come for
the act to be amended without further delay to curb government excesses so that government will
have more to spend for the development of the country. A situation where those found culpable
cannot be prosecuted is no longer tolerable.”

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