The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila said Nigeria is currently facing a fiscal crisis, compounded by the intense disruption that has been wrought on the country’s economic performance and financial projections by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gbajabiamila noted that the development has made Nigeria carry out severe cuts to the 2020 Appropriation Act, while at the same time borrowing more to fund urgent development needs and implement interventions to help the most vulnerable of its citizens get through these trying times with some dignity.
The Speaker said this while declaring open a Five Day Interactive Session on the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) at the National Assembly Complex Abuja on Thursday.
According to him: “All of us in the House of Representatives recognise that the challenges we now face will not abate in the medium term. Yet, we are committed to using the appropriations process as a tool for accomplishing our nation’s most pressing development objectives.
“We have a responsibility to act with urgent determination to build the infrastructure of opportunity that is required to lift millions of our fellow citizens out of poverty. We recognise that we cannot accomplish these objectives using loans and outside financing alone.
“Therefore, we need to impose deep cuts in the cost of governance and improve internal revenue generation and collection so that we can free up resources that can then be deployed to fund policy initiatives that will enhance the lives of our people.
“The revenue-generating agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria have a vital role to play in this regard. There has thus far been a consistent failure to adhere to the revenue remittance agreements to which many of these agencies have committed. We have credible reports that these desperately needed funds have in many cases, been diverted to finance unnecessary trivialities.
“At the same time, the Government is left scrambling for alternative sources to fund priority projects. We cannot afford this dynamic, and we will not tolerate it anymore.
“The legislature remains the keeper of the public purse, with broad constitutional authority to act on behalf of the Nigerian people, to ensure that our collective resources are efficiently administered in service of the public good. Let no one be in doubt, the House of Representatives will not hesitate to act on our constitutional authority notwithstanding whatever objections may arise”.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had on July 21 sent the MTEF/FSP to the National Assembly for consideration.