The Chief Executive Officer of the Economic Associates, Mr. Ayodele Teriba, has advised the Federal Government and members of the National Assembly not to discard the National Economic Intelligence Committee (NEIC).
Teriba, who said this in an e-mail to THISDAY however, called for the strengthening of the committee saddled with the responsibility of analysing the annual budget of the federal government and also to extract all measures in the budget that requires enforcement.
A national newspaper (not THISDAY), reported on Wednesday that the Senate had approved the abrogation of the NEIC Act. The move, according to the lawmakers, is aimed at reducing the cost of governance.
But Teriba, who was a member of the 14-member NEIC between April 2009 and April 2012, said: “I want to suggest that the NEIC is a very important agency for ensuring accountability in fiscal and monetary policies, as well as economic planning and policies in general. It is called Government Accountability Office (GAO) in the United States.
“It is a non-executive economic audit agency of government, that provides oversight, insight, and foresight, and ministers and senior officers in economic ministries with executive roles will naturally not want it breathing down their necks.”
The economist recommended the amendment of the NEIC Act so that the Committee will “take on the character of the GAO Act in the US that will make the agency more directly accountable to both the presidency and the National Assembly.”
The NEIC was established by Decree 17 of February, 1994. Some other functions of the Committee include the working out of details on the method of enforcing the implementation of the annual budget; analyse the monetary guidelines issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and monitor the implementation of the measures enumerated therein; monitor and identify factors inhibiting the realisation of set revenue targets; enforce the implementation of existing tax legislation and to assess the report on any project being carried out by the federal government and confirm that funds released for such projects are judiciously utilised.
On the other hand, the US GAO is an independent agency in the legislative branch of the government. Commonly known as the “investigative arm of Congress” or the “congressional watchdog,” GAO examines how taxpayer dollars are spent and advises lawmakers and agency heads on ways to make government work better.
GAO exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people. It provides Congress with timely information that is objective, fact-based, non-partisan, non-ideological, fair, and balanced.
GAO is unique among legislative branch support agencies in that its reports often present original data and professional analyses drawn from extensive fieldwork.