We must diversify economy for sustainable development, says RMAFC boss
Chairman of Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Mohammed Bello, has emphasised the imperative of diversifying the economy for sustainable development of the country.
According to him, overdependence on oil and gas revenues, despite abundance of human and natural resources, is the bane of economic development.
The diversification, he said, will help to fulfill the collective aspiration of Nigerians for a developed economy.
He said the three tiers of government must focus on the real sector, especially agriculture, solid minerals, manufacturing and tourism, which contributions to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had declined significantly over the years.
Speaking during an interactive session with selected media representatives in Lagos, on Saturday, the RMFAC boss explained that fixing appropriate remuneration for office holders speaks volumes about the commission’s enormous responsibilities.
He said implementation of RMFAC’s responsibility resulted in the enactment of “Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders (Salaries and Allowances, etc.) Amendment Act, 2008.”
The Act, he said, has been in use for more than seven years, and has just been reviewed by the commission. Bello, who expressed optimism that the judiciary would soon get enhanced emolument, stressed that public office holders, such as lawmakers, do not have jumbo salaries as being peddled across the country.
He, however, suggested that additional allowances that allocate more funds to legislators for the purpose of paying their aides and other items could be factored into their emoluments.
He also emphasised the need to comply with Section 162 (10) of the Constitution, which provides that all revenues accruing to the government of the federation should be paid into the Federation Account, without exceptions from some agencies whose enabling laws provide that they should spend the revenues they earn and remit the operating surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federal Government because the Constitution is superior to those laws.
He said: “To ensure synergy in revenue generation, remittance and monitoring, the commission continues to engage critical stakeholders, like the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, the Customs Service, Federal Inland Revenue Service, defunct NNPC and its subsidiaries and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to strategise on how to reduce revenue loss through indiscriminate granting of waivers and tax holidays.
“However, one of the major challenges of the commission is the absence of financial autonomy and poor funding, which directly hinders effective and efficient performance of its operations.
“Thus, yearly budgetary allocation for the financing of its activities, over the years, has been grossly inadequate as to protect its independence and cater for its nationwide field operations, which include monitoring of all revenue generating agencies, data collection, sensitisation, advocacy and consultation.
“The sensitive nature of the commission’s role in Nigeria’s fiscal management requires a large measure of independence, including financial autonomy.”