Business - Business & Economy - News - June 25, 2021

Declining revenue: Nigeria’s Accountant-General seeks Fiscal Responsibility Act amendment

MEDIATRACNET
Amid declining revenues as the government continues to grapple with the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the amendment of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) is crucial, to empower the agency discharge its mandate of mobilizing  needed funding for the country’s annual budgets, the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, has said.
Idris spoke on Friday when the Chairman of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), Victor Muruako visited him at the Treasury House, Abuja.
Considering that government annual budgets were supposed to be funded through revenues generated through its ministries, departments and agencies, the Accountant-General said revenue agencies should live up to their responsibilities and deliver on their mandates.
He said delay in amending the Fiscal Responsibility Act by the National Assembly was affecting the  capacity of the agency to deliver on its mandate.
Under the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), 2007, the Fiscal Responsibility Commission is mandated ro ensure fiscal prudence in the management of the nation’s resources; ensure long-term macro-economic stability of the national economy, secure greater accountability and transparency in fiscal operations within a medium term fiscal policy framework, ro achieve the nation’s economic objectives.
As part of the mandate, the Act mandates the FRC to ensure all government agencies remits to the government treasury at 80 percent of their operating surplus, while retaining 20 percent every year.
It is from the revenues realised from such remittances that the government uses to fund the annual budgetary appropriations.
However, the has not been able to adequately fund its annual budgets in view of the refusal of most MDAs to regularly remit their required operating surplus revenues to the government coffers.
The situation has worsened in recent times with declining revenues as a result of the impact of COVID-19 on the country’s economy.
Consequently, the Accountant-General said he would do everything within his powers to ensure the Federal Treasury gave the Fiscal Responsibility Commission the needed support, by making positive inputs to the amendment of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, to enable the agency achieve its mandate.
“Government always relies on the inflows of the finances generated by its revenue agencies to fund its activities. And the inflows are guaranteed if the Fiscal Responsibility Commission is adequately empowered by law to enforce compliance with the provisions of the law among the MDAs relating to regular remittances of their operating surpluses as and when due,” Idris said.
To boost the declining government finances, Idris said revenue generating agencies should live up to their responsibilities at all times by plugging all loopholes observed in the system.
Governments at all levels in the country as well as the private sector, he noted, are experiencing the problem of dwindling revenues, making it an imperative to seriously address the issue.
Expressing optimism that the era of deficit budgeting in the country would soon be over, the Accountant-General of the Federation said, “this can only be achieved when revenue generating agencies brace up and take their responsibilities seriously, think out of the box and plug the revenue leakages observed in the system.”
He pledged the readiness of the Federal Treasury to partner with the Fiscal Responsibility Commission and other agencies to bring up the solutions to the current economic problems facing the country. 
As a first step, he approved the setting up of a joint team comprising officials from both agencies to come up with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the areas of cooperation between the Treasury and the Fiscal responsibility Commission (FRC).
Earlier, the Chairman of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), Victor Muruako, said the agency can only achieve its mandate when the Fiscal Responsibility Act is successfully amended to reflect current realities.
He solicited the support and cooperation of the Accountant-General of the Federation in the proposed amendment of the Act by the National Assembly.
Muruako commended the Accountant-General of the Federation for his financial management reform Initiatives as well as the development of facilities at the Treasury House and sought greater cooperation between the Treasury and the Fiscal Responsibility Commissin (FRC).

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