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FG reads riot act as NNPC, others withhold N2.7tr operating surplus


Ben Akabueze

The Federal Government may soon sanction revenue-generating agencies for infractions in the 2007 Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), as contained in Executive Order Number Two, which spells out clear penalties for such infractions.Government is disturbed as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and 48 other agencies have been indicted for withholding N2.752 trillion in operating surpluses.

Such surpluses should have been returned to the Federal Government’s coffers to finance sundry projects and programmes.Of the amount, the NNPC withheld N1.3 trillion, followed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which was indicted for withholding N801.181 billion and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), which held back N192.102 billion, among others.

Director General, Budget Office, Ben Akabueze disclosed the figures when he met with the operators of the Government’s Owned Enterprises (SOEs) in Abuja, which chief executive of the indicted agencies failed to attend.

Akabueze explained that a new framework to ensure compliance by the agencies, has accordingly been developed, and now forbids the agencies to take their budgets to the National Assembly for approval.

Their budgets, he said, must now pass through the Ministry of Budget and National Planning and the Ministry of Finance.“From the foregoing, the imperative of improved revenue performance is, therefore, now evident. The objective of this framework is to improve revenue generation and associated remittances to government coffers. This Framework categorizes GOEs into self-funded, partially-funded and fully-funded,” he said.

He lamented that in spite of huge sums, the Federal Government has invested over N40 trillion in the agencies, adding that what is usually remitted to the treasury in terms of dividend or surplus at the end of each operating year, is mostly insignificant. Akabueze added that records show that few of the GOEs declare surpluses and that in effect, tax payers and members of public have not benefited much from these investment agencies.

“Out of the total projected sum of N807.5bn independent revenues in 2017, only N216.66 billion, representing 26.8 per cent performance, was remitted by GOEs and revenue generating MDAs. Remittances and collections by the agencies should contribute more significantly to government’s revenue,” he said

The expected outcome of the new framework, he added, will significant improvement in remittances by revenue-generating and collecting agencies to strengthen the Federal Government’s finances.

The Executive Order Two of 2017 mandates GOEs to submit three-year Revenue and Expenditure Estimates & Annual Budget Estimates to accompany budget proposals to the Ministry of Finance and Budget Office for review, verification and transmission to the National Assembly, among others.

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