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Stakeholders decry abuse of public resources, financial mismanagement

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To minimize excessive abuse of public resources, the financial management system must be strengthened, while the government must carry out intensive economic reform to identify policy gaps, and bridge the holes that enable people to evade or undermine the collection of taxes.
 
These were part of the resolutions at a stakeholders’ dialogue on, Policies, Gaps and Alternatives in Fiscal Transparency in Private Sector Governance, organised by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), and Transparency International (TI), with support from OXFAM’s country office in Nigeria.
 
They also urged policymakers to intensify efforts in looking for other sources of revenue that can ensure development in Nigeria.

 
Specifically, the Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Musa, noted that Nigeria’s fiscal regime has been in a near-total mess, characterized by daily stories of financial misappropriation.
 
He said Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), are having a field day with financial malpractices, while elected and appointed officials are on the rampage with indiscriminate spending and looting without recourse.
 
Musa also alleged that multinational companies indulge in tax evasion practices with their local collaborators due to lack of oversight.  
  
He said: “Allegations of abuse of public offices and misappropriation of public funds by public officeholders is becoming a form of our daily routine in Nigeria. Meanwhile, the Nigerian economy as at the present is majorly dependent on borrowed resources, no thanks to the pandemic excuse. The level of irresponsibility is on the highway to destroying the present and the future of this great country.
 
“This has been going on for too long, and every singular effort from the citizens is termed as hate or unpatriotic. Meanwhile, the consequences of this anomaly are staring us in the face on a daily basis and are on the increase. Increased poverty; banditry allegedly occasioned by rising unemployment; and unpatriotic citizens trooping into leadership positions to perpetuate the looting and misappropriation due to no oversight and punitive sanctions, not to mention health, infrastructure and societal decay. The list is inexhaustible.”
  
Musa urged the government to address financial misappropriation to restore the people’s confidence.
 
“There are many areas in which the government can increase its revenue drive. For instance, in the Oil and Gas sector, there are a lot of gaps as a result of lack of a clear legal framework through the PIB, which will enable the sector to be more efficient, transparent and competitive. Again, the oil theft needs to be blocked; other areas like maritime revenue can be harnessed in these sectors.

Also, the government should block the areas where revenues are supposed to be collected and are not collected. For instance, the audit report clearly shows how the government is losing revenue,” he added.

CISLAC’s Programme Manager, Tax, Justice, Environment and Conservation of Nature, Chinedu Bassey, stressed the need to ensure that Nigeria’s financial management system is strengthened to forestall people from taking advantage of the loopholes and continue to steal and misappropriate resources that are meant for development. “These are the ways in which we can carve and minimize excessive abuse of public resources in Nigeria.”
 
On his part, Manage, Large Tax Audit, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Iheme Madukairo, urged Nigerians who are in the habit of evading taxes to desist from such, saying the law will take its course.
  
“Enforcement is out there, sleeves are rolled up to do the job that we are mandated to do by the act and sooner or later, we will catch up with them. The sanctions have also increased by virtue of the finance act. The penalty has been increased, once it is found out that it is a deliberate act to breach the law, the law will take its course.”


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