By Aisha Cole
Lagos, Sept, 21, 2020 The Acting Chairman, Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), Mr Victor Muruako, has said that over N1. 8trillion had been paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) by agencies and state’s owned enterprises listed in the schedule to FRC 2009.
Muruako made the disclosure at the one day training organised by the Fiscal Responsibility Commission in collaboration with Brevic Consultants and Investment Ltd. and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) held in Lagos on Monday.
Muruako said that the N1. 8trillion paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) was the operating surplus of 80 per cent of yearly operations of the agencies and state’s owned enterprises listed by the schedule to FRC 2007.
Naija247news reports that the Fiscal Responsibility Acts (FRA) 2007 was signed into law by Former President, Umar Yar’Adaua, in 2007 while the Commission was inaugurated in 2008.
The act had mandated the Commission to strive in promoting prudent management of the nation’s resources, ensuring long-term macro-economic stability and transparency in fiscal operations of the nation’s economy.
Muruako said that the Commission had been seen as an institutional response to the quest for a regime of prudent, ethical and efficient management of public finances at all tiers of the government in Nigeria.
He explained that Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 was signed into Law in ensuring the dream of the nation to instill a new transparency and accountability framework was unstoppable.
Muruako said that the inauguration of the commission had enable public finance management to be more positive, transparent and prudent.
“The Commission has reformed the budgetary process through the introduction of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF). This is being put in place to link policy, planning and budgeting over the medium-term three years at best.
“In order to ensure that the FRA, 2007 was adhered to, the Commission had to devise alternative strategies to nudge the MDAs to discharge their functions through stakeholders’ interactions and bilateral engagements geared towards increasing awareness and understanding the requirements of the FRA, 2007.
“The key areas traditionally monitored include: Preparations and approval of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF); Preparation and approval of the Annual Budget (Appropriation Acts; Execution of the budget and publication of Budget Implementation Reports (BIR).
“Also other areas are: Determination (and monitoring of) appropriate Operating Surpluses due for payment by scheduled corporations into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government; Savings and assets management; and Revenue Monitoring.
” The Commission has also developed a Template for the calculation of Operating Surplus, which has been approved by the Honourable Minister of Finance, who has also issued a circular in that respect since 2016.
“We are working towards recommending more agencies for addition to the Schedule, whilst also looking critically at some of them that may be removed from the list for certain considerations relating to their operations and the welfare of the Nigerian people.
“Unfortunately, the Commission has not got enough support to push up this template and engage these agencies including the Nigerian Railway Corporation on what constitutes Operating Surplus. This part of why we are here today,” Muruako said.
He said that the situation presently was not best of times for Nigerian Economy, particularly as the nation struggle to recover from the debilitating challenges of COVID-19 pandemic, which took the whole world unawares.
Muruako said that in spite of the fact that COVID-19 challenges affected every country, adding that the commission had been guided by getting every hand on deck in ensuring that Nigeria do not fall back into recession the second time.
According to him, it is indeed possible looking at the economic programmes of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.
“The Fisacal Responsibility Act, 2007 are sensitised to understand what is expected of them by the Act. One of it is majorly the payment of Operating Surplus.
“Since we started operation in 2009, the Commission has caused the remittance of more than N1.8 trillion into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government with just about Government investment of N5.8 billion covering Personnel, Overhead and capital projects on the Commission.
“I want to particularly commend the management of the Nigerian Railway Corporation for seeing the importance of partnering with the Commission for this important programme.
“We have worked hard to ensure that all the agencies in the schedule in spite of some challenges, the implementation of the spirit and letters of the Act has led to some outstanding achievements namely: Reform of the budgeting process through the implementation of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) among others,” Muruako said.
He commended the efforts and support of President Muhammadu Buhari, and the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, for making it possible for the Commission to carryout it functions diligently.
The Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr Fidet Okhiria, said that the Federal Government was investing heavily on railway infrastructure, adding that it was indeed imperative that NRC shown capacity in all feats to manage and maintain the huge investment.
Okhiria, who was represented by the Director, Operations of NRC, Mr Niyi Ali, said that NRC with its vision to become a World Class Rail Transport Organisation, providing safe, efficient, affordable, reliable, widely linked network, customer oriented service’ and mission.
He said that according to Tejvan Pettinger, fiscal responsibility implies a government pursues the appropriate level of government spending and tax to maintain sustainable public finances; ensure fiscal policy aids the optimal rate of economic growth and maintain appropriate levels of public investment.
Okhiria said that the subsisting fiscal environment was generally ineffective coupled with poor savings culture, uncoordinated borrowing, poor access to fiscal records, amongst others.
“This led to economic instabilities, inefficient public sector investments, debt overhang, poor service delivery and worsening socio-economic conditions in the country before the Commission was created.
” We appreciate the rich course content design for our staff, which is very suitable as we undertake the era of the railway modernization. The course content which include: The overview of the FRA Act 2007; MTEF and its roles in the budgeting process.
“Operating surplus computation using FRC operating surplus calculation template and FGN Revenue sources and monitoring will definitely aid the expansion of the horizon and better understanding of this important discourse by our the participants,” he said.
Okhiria, however, urged the participants to take full advantage of the programme to acquaint themselves of more knowledge in government policies, business and transcend, adding that participant should extend the knowledge to their colleagues after the training.