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NIGERIA: Lack of Synergy Between Budget Office, MDAs May Stall Budget’s Passage

Barring any significant changes that will meet the needs of fiscal discipline, the passage of the 2014 budget may be stalled given the fact that there appears to be no synergy between the budget office and some revenue generating ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

The facts regarding this matter emerged yesterday at the continuation of meetings between the House of Representatives Committee on Finance and some independent revenue generating agencies.

This is just as the suspension of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) did not afford the institution the chance to make its submission before the committee, which pegged the level of presenters to it as that of directors and above of any organisation.

Thus, the representative sent by the CBN was not able to make any submission.
Equally, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigeria Maritime  Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) had their presentations deferred till Wednesday because of lack clarity and inconsistencies in their submissions. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which was billed to appear before the committee yesterday, but did not,  was given till today to do so.

Chairman of the committee, Abdulmumini Jibrin, raised an eyebrow over the implication of lack of harmony between the budget office and the MDAs following the submissions by NIMASA and FAAN, both of which stated that their organisations did not interface with the budget office which submitted revenue projections for them to the committee.

According to Jibrin, the 2014 budget appears to have a lacuna and is therefore not realistic.
“Going by what we have just heard, it shows that the budget may only accumulate debts,” he noted.
“The budget office submitted a document for revenue projections for the 2014 budget, but here are some of the agencies saying no. For instance, the budget office projected the revenue of FAAN as N17.2 billion but FAAN is saying they projected N56 billion with a view to remitting N500 million. During the fiscal year,” Jibrin observed.

Also querying why there is a gap between the budget provisions and remittances of some of the MDAs, the chairman wondered why they expend money that they were supposed to remit.
“Why will you spend without remitting. Your action is in breach of the laws of the land. We have to find ways out of this. Over the years, the pattern of generation and remittances take the same pattern. Why? The whole thing looks like some arranged figures,” Jibrin stressed.
Based on this and the fact that some of the agencies like NIMASA spent without recourse to appropriation, Jibrin directed them to go and review their submissions and reflect their actual remittances.

Drawing their attention to a directive by the ministry of finance that all MDAs must remit 25 per cent of their earnings as gross revenue to cut costs, the chairman insisted that when re-presenting their submission they should indicate whether they have legal backing to incur expenditures they made and what authority gave them approval for their financial undertakings.

Turning to the CBN, Jibrin remarked that there is nothing that could have stopped the institution from sending a high powered delegation to the meeting. “Nothing is standing still there. It is still running as normal. This is a serious issue. We won’t take a deputy director. Let the acting governor know that she has to appear in person,” he ruled.

Although, it has a backlog unaudited account for six years, NIMASA, which was given until March to do so, said its remittances, including that of this year, is. N21.4 billion.
The executive director in charge of finance and administration, Haruna Baba, explained that the basis of the organisation’s contribution to the federal government coffers depends on the revenue they collect. “Whatever we generate, we take out 30 per cent for  maritime infrastructure. Which we spend after an appropriation by the National Assembly,” he said.
On its part, FAAN justified its contentious 2014 revenue projection on the basis that it will be a gross revenue as the organisation “depends solely on internally generated revenue.”
FAAN, according to a director, Adeniyi Balogun, was “before 2011 not able to remit by way of surplus, because it didn’t receive subvention at all from the federal government.”

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