Commission urges govt to expand revenue base
- Supports move to draw from ECA to bailout states
- Warns against scrap of fiscal body
AS the nation continues to witness serious financial uncertainties occasioned by the fall in world oil prices, the Fiscal Responsibility Commission has said that the trend may continue unabated except government at all levels look ahead for alternative means to generate revenues outside the federation account.
It also disclosed that the non-compliance by the government with the relevant Sections of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA] 2007, reckless spending by government officials, massive corruption and greed could equally be blamed for shortages of government revenues in the present circumstances.
The act also requires the commission to monitor the operation and management of the Excess Crude Account [ECA] but since the commission started this account, the budget implementation report has never disclosed the opening and closing balances of the Excess Crude Account, as drawing from the ECA have been in total disregard of the FRA, 2007 which specifies the condition for withdrawal from the account.
Meanwhile, the commission has expressed its support for the federal government’s move to draw from the excess crude account to bail out states to enable them pay arrears of salaries, provided such withdrawals would be used appropriately for the purpose they are meant for. The commission’s position was made known at the week-end during the management’s team interaction with news men in Abuja.
The commission was established through the fiscal responsibility Act of 2007 by government to provide for prudent management of the nation’s resources, ensure long term macro-economic stability of the national economy, secure greater accountability and transparency in the fiscal operations within a medium term fiscal policy framework and establishment of the fiscal Responsibility commission to ensure the promotion and enforcement of the nation’s economic objectives.
On the Orosaye report, the management team, which was led by the Head, Finance and Accounts of the commission, Raymond Omachi said the findings and white paper on same, which the commission be scrapped have been hanging like the proverbial albatross of ancient mariner.
‘’This has hampered the ability of the commission to discharge its mandate, the earlier the federal government takes a decision on the commission, the better.
‘’ We are bold to say that the benefit of retaining the commission to enforce the present administration’s anti-corruption agenda far outweighs the costs,’’ he said.
Omachi pointed out that the commission has in the last few years of its establishment assisted government in the monitoring and evaluation of the yearly budgets, ensure regular publication of funds releases to the three tiers of government as well as timeline for the auditing of the federal government accounts, ensure that the federal government’s budget deficit is limited to sustainable level of less than three percent of GDP.
Besides, he said the commission has ensured that over N350 billion was paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the federal government over the past five years as operating surplus from the Federal government’s corporations even as it has also ensured that the country’s foreign debt profile is down to sustainable level in terms of debt to GDP ratio among others.
Contributing, the Head, internal Audit of the commission, Peter Osundu Okoro advised government to ensure it collects earning taxes from political office holders in line with the country’s progressive tax system, ‘’Government should also bring in tax collections from the formal sectors such as tailoring, mechanics, even as we make it possible for capital transfer tax.