• Sunday, March 03, 2024
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Budget funding: Lawmakers set to grill heads of government enterprises

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Lawmakers in the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations summoned the Heads of Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs) on Friday.

The GOEs include the Minister of Finance, Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Also, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Minister of State for Petroleum, and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), among others to appear in person on Monday without further excuses to ensure all loose ends to revenue are tied which can have a gross impact on the government’s ability to implement the 2024 Appropriation Bill when passed.

Committee on Appropriations Chairman Rep. Abubakar Bichi gave the order at the interactive session with GOEs to discuss further areas where the country could find money to fund the 2024 Appropriation Budget.

Earlier in the morning, the Committee had turned back the representatives of CBN, Customs, and FIRS and demanded their heads to appear.

Also recall that the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions on Wednesday issued a warrant of arrest on the Governor of Central Bank, Olayemi Cardoso, the Accountant General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein and 17 others for refusing to appear to answer questions on their operations.

This is even as Michaël Irom, the Chairman of the Committee, mandates the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to ensure they were brought before the Committee on December 14.

Read also Lawmakers abandon 2024 budget defence, reject CBN, Customs, FIRS reps

Bitchi affirmed that the objective of the engagement with GOEs, among others, is to provide highlights on some key issues about the preparation, enactment, and implementation of the 2024 budget and may also include strategies for addressing rising inflation, reducing the burden of Nigeria’s debt profile, sectoral budgetary allocations, and the dynamics of budget releases.

Others, he said, are economic diversification strategies, revenue generation forecasts, and any useful information that will facilitate the enactment of the bill and effective implementation of the Appropriations Act of 2024.

According to him, amidst concerns about addressing the infrastructural gap in the country, eliminating poverty, and generally achieving the 8-Point Renewed Hope Agenda, there is a need to ensure that all loose ends to revenue are tied, as this can have a gross impact on the government’s ability to implement the 2024 Appropriation Bill when passed.

He expressed that while the revised MTEF and FSP showed that revenue-generating efforts by the present administration are already yielding fruit, more needs to be done to ensure that government-owned enterprises optimize their revenue-generating potential, noting that these revenue-generating agencies must come with money because, without money, there is no magic the president can perform to ensure the realization of the Renewed Hope Budget.

Bitchi said President Bola Tinubu’s 2024 budget is fantastic. Still, money is needed to fund the budget as there were concerns about addressing the infrastructural gap in the country, eliminating poverty, and generally achieving the 8-Point Renewed Hope Agenda.

In his submission, Atiku Bagudu, Minister of Budget and National Planning, who honoured the House invitation for the interactive session, said the 2024 proposal had increased spending, including infrastructure and education.

According to him, they also want to ensure that the manufacturing sector will worry less about demand than production and have provided N50 billion in student loans.

Bagudu said these were game-changing moves, a product of legislation, adding that “all of us must work together to ensure we interrogate the revenue-generating agencies.

“The budget appropriation had a proposal for $100 billion for the Sustainable Agriculture Fund.

“Mr President is ambitious, and he is very clear that Nigeria is not where it is; the revenue we collect is about 10 per cent, and the president has directed that we raise it to 18 per cent.”

“We understand that the lawmakers are interested in how money is spent. You are also interested in how you can cooperate with the executive to ensure we take Nigeria to greater heights.

“We need a budget that can be trusted. We don’t have money; we are looking for money, so we need to interrogate the revenue-generating agencies,” he said.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has underscored the need for international collaboration to tackle the scourge of corruption in Nigeria.

Chairman of the House Committee on Anti-Corruption, Kayode Akiolu, during the inaugural meeting of the Standing Committee, reiterated the 10th Assembly’s readiness to strengthen transparency and accountability through collaboration and legislative reforms.

Akiolu harped on the need to combat corruption and uphold the integrity of Nigeria and pledged his resolve to lead the Committee towards significant progress in the fight against corruption in Nigeria in line with the House of Representative Agenda to ensure transparent governance and accountability.

“This agenda topic encompasses our committee’s key objectives, aligning with our long-term goals and the interests of our fellow Nigerians. It addresses the need for collaboration, capacity building, and legislative reforms to tackle corruption effectively.”

“These events will promote meaningful discussions, knowledge sharing, and collaboration. We will begin with one-on-one visits to International and National Organizations, establishing connections and exploring areas of cooperation. This activity aligns with our secondary jurisdiction of developing programs to address violations of conduct or laws. The meetings with CSOs will help us discuss strategies and explore collaborations to combat corruption effectively.

To effectively discharge the Committee’s work, Akiolu explained that the Committee will conduct site visits to anti-corruption agencies as part of steps aimed at monitoring and evaluating their efforts in mitigating corruption and assured Nigerians that the Committee will ensure effective monitoring and evaluation of the efforts of the Anti-corruption Agencies.