The Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) has generated over N2 trillion since inception in 2007 till date, its chairman, Victor Muruako, has said.
The money, he said, was remitted into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CFR).
He stated this on Tuesday at the public hearing on the bill to repeal and re-enact the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
The hearing was organised by the Senate Committee on Finance.
The legislation, sponsored by Aisha Dahiru, a senator from Adamawa State, seeks to curb financial fraud and wastages within Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to ensure more effective and efficient delivery of public services.
The bill, as Ms Dahiru had said, will provide a better legal framework to back the operations of the commission, which she said has been limited.
“If passed, will expand the functions and powers of the FRC; ensure adequate funding/increased budgetary allocations to the Commission; ensure the remittance of operating surplus by MDAs; ensure enforcement of penalties and establish the Fiscal Responsibility Council,” she said.
Part of the bill also proposes that the commission retains a portion of the operating surpluses paid into the CRF of the federal government as cost of collection.
The amendment also seeks to limit the expenditure of all other MDAs (not listed in the schedule) to not more than 75 per cent of their gross revenue.
In his presentation, Mr Muruako stressed the need for the commission to be strengthened in all ramifications and its responsibilities, powers and functions properly streamlined.
He also said the move to repeal the Act will ultimately improve the commission’s funding and capacity to increase the generation of independent revenue into the CRF of the federal government as well as end the current state of impunity with which statutory obligations imposed by the Act which are routinely ignored by many MDAs & GOEs.
“The generation of independent revenue through the remittance of operating surplus is one aspect of the mandate of the Commission that has added great value to governance.
“It is noteworthy that the commission has since inception caused over 2 trillion naira to be remitted to the CRF in spite of the lapses in the present Act. It is expected that the amendment bill will cause even more revenue to be remitted into the federal government coffers by the present 122 Schedule corporations (increased from 30 and still counting) as well as align the same with scant legislation like the finance act 2020,” he said.
The legislation, he said, has made elaborate provisions for offenses and penalties for the infringement of the provision of the Act which include penal and financial sanctions.
He also emphasised the need for “proper funding” for the commission.
“The need for a special and sustainable funding arrangement to enable it deliver on its mandate is starkly evident.
“The proposal in the bill for the retention by the commission of a portion of the operating surpluses paid into the CRF of the federal government as cost of collection, if passed will go a long way in securing and enhancing the crucial financial autonomy necessary for the commission to meet the expectation of the nation.”
On his part, the Executive Secretary of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (NEITI), Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, described the bill as timely and vital to the economic well-being of Nigeria and Nigerians.
He said the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which is one of the most important interventions in the history of Nigeria’s public finance reforms, shares the same objectives with NEITI – which is a transparent, accountable and prudent management of Nigeria’s resources.
“There’s no doubt whatsoever that attaining a culture of accountability in the larger economy will make it easier to achieve accountability in the extractive industry which generates the bulk of Nigeria’s economic resources,” Mr Orji said.
He, however, argued for clear, dissuasive and enforceable sanctions.
He also urged the panel to ensure and enhance return on government’s investment in its public corporations as well as a strengthened enforcement of its powers.
Consideration of the committee’s report from the hearing and final passage of the bill is expected to be done on another legislative day.