By Temitope Ponle
Abuja, Sept. 7, 2020 The Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) has called for speedy amendment of the law establishing it to ensure effective implementation of its operational mandate.
The Acting Chairman of the commission, Mr Victor Muruako made the call at a three-day management retreat of the FRC on Monday in Abuja.
“We already have the challenge of the Act. We have taken bold steps to request and we are pushing and I am happy that Mr President has already triggered the process of amendment of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA).
“We are aware that the amendment has been in process but we think the country needs a stronger FRA now more than ever.
“That is one of the concrete actions that could help in our drive,” Muruako said.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 states that for the purpose of performing its functions under the Act, the commission shall have the power to compel any person or government institution to disclose information relating to public revenues and expenditure.
It also states that it shall have power to cause an investigation into whether any person has violated any provision of the Act.
If the commission is satisfied that such a person has committed any punishable offence under the Act, it shall forward a report of the investigation to the Attorney-General of the Federation for the possible prosecution.
Muruako said that the commission in line with the Act, had the mandate of ensuring prudent management of Nigeria’s resources and the stability of the nation’s economy.
He said that the Federal Government added 92 corporations to the initial 31 in the Schedule of the FRA 2007 which made it possible for the agencies to remit N1.7 trillion to the Consolidated Revenue Funds (CRF).
He, however, added that in 11 years of the commission’s existence, most of the agencies had spent funds “without tracing through unorthodox accounting systems and all forms of financial manipulations”.
He emphasised that most agencies were in default of their remittances to the CFR, which currently stood at N1.2 trillion.
“These agencies that are funded by the government, they have to appreciate the fact that the government must survive and on its own account, not by continuously borrowing.
“If these multiple agencies of government decide today that we will not be wasteful again and incur certain luxurious expenses… that is where I think the need to reduce the cost of governance is very critical at this time.
“These agencies owe the government over N1.2 trillion and if these funds are properly rendered into the CRF, I believe that the government and our citizens will be the better for it.”
Muruako urged the members of staff to support the Federal Government to enable the speedy amendment of the FRA.
He appreciated both chambers of the National Assembly and also called for “speedy legislative action on the repeal and re-enact of the FRA, 2007”.
He also urged members of staff and management to review the strategies on how to utilise N380 million of the commission’s appropriation, which he said was paltry.
“It is only unfortunate that while the agencies on the Schedule of the FRA, 2007 have been increased from 30 to 122, the yearly appropriation of the budget of the commission is consistently dwindling hence making it very difficult for the it difficult to fully discharge its mandate.”
Muruako said that the retreat would focus on best ways to utilise available resources to ensure the economy does not “fall to the predictions of international financial institutions”.
The retreat theme is: “Promoting Prudence, Accountability and Economic Stability in a Post COVID-19 Economy’’.