The Federal Executive Council (FEC) says it is perfecting strategies towards plugging leakages in the Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Briefing State House correspondents after the council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, said the strategy which is the only item at the first meeting of the FEC in 2016, is aimed at fiscal growth of the economy.
Mrs Adeosun decried a situation where many agencies of government don’t remit revenues to the Federation Account.
She maintained that henceforth, MDAs must submit a budget which must be approved by the government to ensure that public monies in public agencies are well spent.
She said the objective is to ensure that every Naira of government is well utilized.
The Council observed that in the past, MDAs spend money without control.
The Minister of Finance also denied reports that the Federal Government has withdrawn the budget.
According to her an audit has been carried out on agencies that collect money in foreign currency, to ensure that such agencies comply with the extant rules.
President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration will look inwards and enforce regulations to stop financial leakages in order to overcome the current economic challenges facing Nigeria.
The President said this while receiving the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ms Christine Lagarde, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
He said his government would adopt global best practices in generating more revenue to mitigate the effect of dwindling oil prices on the Nigerian economy.
President Buhari added that his administration would implement greater discipline, probity and accountability in all revenue generating agencies of the Federal Government.
“We have just come out of budget discussions after many weeks of taking into consideration, the many needs of the country and the downturn of the economy with falling oil prices and the negative economic forecasts. We are working very hard and with the budget as our way forward, we will do our best to ensure that our country survives the current economic downturn.
“We have also told all heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government that on our watch, they will fully account for all funds that get into their coffers,” President Buhari told Ms Lagarde.
The President revealed that the Federal Government was reviewing its operational costs and had directed all the MDAs to cut down on their overhead costs.
He said that the government would welcome the technical support and expertise of the IMF for its plans to diversify the Nigerian economy and further unleash its growth potentials.
In her remarks, Ms Lagarde said that the IMF would be willing to assist the Federal Government in plugging revenue leakages, tracing stolen funds and restructuring its tax system.
She said that Nigeria has all the potentials to overcome the current economic challenge of falling commodity prices without resorting to the IMF for financial support.
The Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, has presented a budget estimate of 116,164, 043,000 naira to the state House of Assembly for the 2016 fiscal year.
The estimate is a decrease of over 1.5 billion naira over the 2015 revised appropriation which represents 1.3% decrease.
Out of the estimate, the budget is made up of recurrent expenditure of over 48 billion, over 10 billion naira for the public debt service while over 57 billion is earmarked for capital expenditure.
Tagged the budget of sustained expansion, the State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, who laid the budget before the state lawmakers, said that the budget proposal was based on zero-budgeting approach for ministries, departments and agencies to justify all their expenditure needs in line with the prevailing economic situation in the country.
According to him, the total projected revenue estimate from all available sources to the state for 2016 fiscal year is over 116 billion naira.
Governor Ahmed also said that the 2016 Kwara budget holds great opportunity for the state and country, despite the challenges ahead.
He called on residents of the state to continue to cooperate with the government in its effort to elevate the state and contribute their quota to the development of the state.
A Nigerian economist has stated his opinions about the 2016 national budget presented to the National Assembly on Tuesday.
“Putting it in a very awkward position, I consider the budget process a joke,” he said.
Professor Pat Utomi was on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Tuesday morning, few hours before the presentation of the budget by President Muhammadu Buhari before a joint session of the National Assembly.
He further said that “January 20 years ago, I was one of those who began to analyse the budget, and by December, there were issues with implementation.
“We somehow do not have the discipline of the budget process, we go through budget as public relations exercises because they are supposed to be done and decision makers go ahead to do whatever they want to do,” he said.
Low Energy In Leadership
Proffering solutions to the problem of budget implementation, Professor Utomi said that “the goal is to achieve an execution premium, but if those who are responsible for it (the budget) really had no plan whatsoever to follow the budget, then, you are wasting your time.
“When those who are responsible for it, do not see long term goals in which the budget is just a piece in an unfolding set of activities that would reach a certain goal, there is no point of it.
“I think what has happened to us is that we got to a point of disconnect between the leadership elite, the political class, the bureaucratic elite and development aspirations of the Nigeria people,” he said.
Professor Utomi further said that the major reason why the budget isn’t working in Nigeria is ‘leadership’.
“There is low energy in leadership. we are not leading the country in the right direction.
“What the country is dealing with is a huge financing gap; we used to earn so much and now, we are earning this much, if we pretend that nothing has changed, then we would go into an economic spiral”, he added.
While stating that the 2016 budget would focus on addressing youth unemployment and cater for the vulnerable, President Buhari said that Nigeria remains committed to diversification to build and reflate the economy.
The Managing Director of Systemspecs has provided some information about the company, the software, Remita and its role in the collection of government’s revenue.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, Mr John Obaro clarified that Remita is not a company, contrary to the belief of many Nigerians, but a software platform through which government funds are remitted.
Systemspecs, according to him is a software house. “We have been in business for about 24 years, we support sound system; accounting software and we have human manager which is a home grown application,” he said.
Explaining the company’s emergence, he said, “In 2011, we were invited to participate in the process for the selection of the platform for the TSA. We bid with a local company, they looked at the foreign option and we were selected before the assignment.
“We started with payments in January 2012. That has been going on well because we started with about 116 MDAs which has increased to about 900 and there weren’t problems with the payment side.
“Issues came in when we were to start the collections. The collections were supposed to start January 2013 but didn’t happen until the former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan gave an order early this year (2015) which ought to start in March, but started slowly until October when President Muhammadu Buhari gave his order and then, we now have a spike,” he explained.
The Systemspecs boss also clarified, “Payment is when government is paying out salaries to contractors while collection borders on when government is receiving funds into its account.”
Mr Obaro further explained that the idea of TSA was for government to have a view of all accounts. “About 17,000 accounts have been closed. We have put in place a system to keep track of all the MDAs, the accounts they have, and also manage each MDA independently.”
He gave an insight into the controversy surrounding Remita as raised by Senator Dino Melaye on the floor of the Senate.
“We respect the role of the National Assembly in oversight functionary, but the way the motion came was a bit harsh because we thought some judgments were made before full facts were available.
“Having said that, we have had the privilege of meeting with them to at least, shed some lights on what has been going on.
“Senator Melaye was right to raise an issue, the language may not have been right, I may not be comfortable, but I think its alright to raise issues of concern across any sector of the economy,” he said.
Senator Melaye had argued that the use of Remita was a violation of Section 162(1) of the constitution, which stated that “the federation shall maintain a special account to be called the federation account into which all revenues collected by the government of the federation except the proceeds from the personal income tax of the personnel of the Armed Forces of the Federation, the Nigeria Police Force, the ministry or department of government charged with foreign affairs and the residents of the FCT, Abuja”.
He further stated that the CBN could only appoint a registered bank as an agent for collecting and disbursing the funds and that since Remita was not a bank, its appointment as a collection agent was in violation of the CBN Act and the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 2007.
The Systemspecs boss said, “The whole issue surrounds the charge of 1%. In fairness, the Senate commended the TSA as a project.
“In our contract, there was a clause that said the fee for collections will be agreed by all the parties; office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Commercial Banks and Systemspecs – the platform provider.”
Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, says the trial of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), over alleged mismanagement of billions of Naira meant for arms procurement is a partial indictment on the National Assembly.
Dr. Saraki made the statement after the Upper Chamber debated a motion on Tuesday at the National Assembly in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
He said the Senate had not properly performed its oversight functions on Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
“Distinguished colleagues, I want us in this 8th Senate to ensure that our committees carry out proper oversight and we the leadership are going to ensure that we too find a way of making sure that the committees do their work of oversight because truly, that is the bottom line to this,” the Senate President said while reacting to Dasuki’s trial.
Senator Saraki said the inability of the Senate committees to effectively oversee government MDAs had ensured that gross mismanagement of revenue and incompetence in MDA’S have been left unchecked for too long.
“We must play our role in the area of oversight because if we do not play it, this is what we get at the end of the day,” the former Kwara State Governor said, as he tasked his colleagues on efficiency.
Senator Saraki also filed an application for stay of proceedings urging the Supreme Court to halt the proceedings of the Code of conduct Tribunal to try him for the alleged offences pending when his appeal would be determined.
The Senate President raised seven grounds of appeal in his notice of appeal filed on Tuesday and attached to the application for stay of proceedings.
The Accountant General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris, on Friday lashed out at Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) who had suggested that the September 15 deadline to maintain a Treasury Single Account was unrealistic.
Mr Idris assured the Federal Government that the deadline would not only be met, but implemented.
He emphasised that implementation guidelines had been developed and would soon be made available to all MDAs, and to the general public.
This decision is meant to help block what the Federal Government had described as leakages in the system, promote transparency and facilitate compliance with sections 80 and 162 of the Nigerian Constitution.
President Muhammadu Buhari has set a deadline of Tuesday, September 15, 2015, for full compliance with his directive that all revenue due to the Federal Government or any of its agencies must be paid into the Treasury Single Account (TSA) or designated accounts maintained and operated in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), except otherwise expressly approved.
A circular issued to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mr Danladi Kifasi, urged the MDAs to ensure strict compliance with the deadline to avoid sanctions.
The September 4 circular said a number of MDAs were yet to comply with an earlier circular of August 7, 2015, which conveyed President Buhari’s original directive on the payment of all Federal Government revenue into a Treasury Single Account.
According to a statement by the President’s spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, sanctions will follow non-compliance.
The sanctions were, however, not mentioned.
“In this regard, His Excellency, Mr President has directed that all MDAs are to comply with the instructions on the Treasury Single Account (TSA) unfailingly by Tuesday, September 15, 2015.
“Heads of MDAs and other arms of Government are enjoined to give this Circular the widest circulation and ensure strict compliance to avoid sanctions,” Mr Kifasi’s circular read.
President Muhammadu Buhari has blamed past administrations for the current situation where Nigeria is forced to spend billions of Naira annually on alleged subsidies for petroleum products.
Speaking at a meeting with the Chairman and Members of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), On Tuesday, President Buhari expressed the view that the escalation of petroleum subsidy payments over recent years was due to the deliberate neglect of the nation’s refineries, oil pipelines and other related infrastructure to allow the importation of petroleum products and corruption to thrive.
The President, who restated his huge disappointment with the way Nigeria’s oil industry has been run since he left office as Petroleum Minister and Military Head of State, said that he was convinced that if the development of the country’s domestic refining capacity and petroleum products distribution network had kept pace with national demand, there would not have been any need for the huge subsidies currently being paid to importers.
President Buhari, however, urged the Chairman of the RMAFC, who availed him of their view on the vexed issued of petroleum subsidy payments, to go “back to the drawing board and come up with more humane proposals to rescue ordinary Nigerians from the wicked manipulation of the country’s oil industry by corrupt operators”.
The President also warned that severe sanctions would be visited on any individual or organisation that violates the directive on the payment of all national revenue into the federation account.
He, nonetheless, said that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and other MDAs, which previously relied on the laws establishing them to retain all or part of revenues collected by them, did so illegally and must now comply with the Nigerian constitution by paying all revenues to the federation account.
President Buhari, who also chided the RMAFC for approving excessive remunerations for some political office holders, urged the commission to seek a proper interpretation of its powers and address the public outcry against the unreasonably high payments.
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has directed the Federal Ministry of Defence to strategise for the establishment of a modest Military Industrial Complex for the production of domestic weapons, to meet some of the requirements of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
The President made this declaration in Abuja on Friday at the graduation ceremony of the National Defence College, where he condemned the country’s over-dependence on other countries for critical military equipment and logistics.
“We must evolve viable mechanisms for near-self-sufficiency in military equipment and logistics production complemented only by very advanced foreign technologies.
“The Ministry of Defence is being tasked to draw up clear and measurable outlines for development of a modest Military Industrial Complex for Nigeria,” President Buhari said.
Buhari said the decision was made to liaise with other strategic MDAs and industries to re-engineer the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) to meet national military hardware and logistics requirements.
‘Win The War’
He observed that since his administration’s assumption of office, it had reviewed the nature and character of Nigeria’s security threats and challenges.
“We recognised first and foremost, the external dimensions of these threats and the need for international cooperation and common security mechanisms to tackle them,” he said.
President Buhari explained that in the light of this realisation, his Administration was “convinced that the best approach was to work within the framework of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) to mobilise a collective regional effort in the fight against terrorism and insurgency.
The President urged the graduates, officers and men of the Armed Forces to work harder to win the war against the Boko Haram, terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria’s north-east.
“We must apply a comprehensive strategy and coordinate all elements of national power against terrorism and insurgency; we must show result oriented leadership at all levels of military Command; we must set up an optimal organisation to manage and sustain operational performance; and we must show confidence and winning mentality,” Buhari said.
‘Make A Marked Difference’
The President assured Nigerians and the international community that the Federal Government, under his leadership, would strive to meet the operational, logistic, training and welfare requirements of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
He also reaffirmed his commitment to ameliorating the hardships of people living in areas most affected by insurgency and terrorism.
“We have the will, resolve and conviction to apply a comprehensive strategy and coordinate all elements of national power against terrorism and insurgency,” the President stressed.
Buhari said that the National Defence College had fulfilled the vision of its founding fathers, by becoming a strategic human capacity-building institution, making credible contributions to Nigeria and other friendly countries.
The President urged graduates of the College’s Course 23 to resolve to ‘make a marked difference in your future deployments and contribute your quota to the evolution and implementation of national security, defence and military strategies’.
“You should be the source that lights up the environment wherever you find yourselves,” he said.