Senate approves president’s virement of N213 billion in budget
Sets up panel to probe non-remittance of N1.5tr by agencies
The Senate yesterday approved a total of N213 billion as virement from the 2016 budget to take care of more urgent expenditure.
President Muhammadu Buhari had last month approached the Senate to approve a virement to the tune of N180 billion in the budget.
He had said the N180 billion would be moved from money already appropriated for special intervention programmes, both recurrent and capital for funding of critical recurrent and capital items.
The president explained the request arose due to a number of reasons, which include shortfalls in provisions for personnel costs; inadequate provision ab initio for some items like the amnesty programme; continuing requirements to sustain the war against insurgency; and depreciation of the naira.
However, in approving the president’s request yesterday, the Senate increased the amount to N213 billion.
The Senate also constituted a six-member ad hoc committee to investigate the alleged abuse, misuse, under-remittance or non-remittance and other fraudulent practices in the collection, accounting, of internally generated revenue by all revenue generating agencies of government from 2012 to 2016.
The committee was directed to conclude the investigation and submit its report to the Senate in six weeks.
The setting up of the committee, followed the adoption of a motion tagged “Urgent Need to Investigate Revenue Generation agencies for Non-Remittance of Generated Revenue” sponsored by Senator Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos West).
The investigation came barely two weeks after the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun accused revenue-generating agencies of diverting revenues they had generated.
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki who named Adeola as chairman of the ad hoc committee lamented that revenue agencies generated over N1.5 trillion last year, but could only deliver less than N500 billion.
Saraki said: “As I keep on hammering, independent revenue and non-oil revenue are very important areas of our budget. This independent revenue is 37 per cent. You remember that last year it was almost N1.5 trillion and I am being told now that this year it is likely to come down to N500 billion because they could not meet the target.
“The inability to meet the target is not that they do not have the capacity to meet the target. The problem is that there is too much abuse on these operating surpluses where people spend up to the last naira in all. I think the best way forward is for us to address this issue in blocking these leakages and I believe that in constituting the ad hoc committee, we would just take the best hands and still bring people from Finance and Public Accounts Committees.”
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