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The Senate yesterday resolved to probe alleged misuse, under remittance and other fraudulent practices in the collection and accounting of internally generated revenue (IGR) by revenue generating agencies.
The probe, the Senate agreed, will cover all revenue generating agencies including the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Customs Service and others. It will cover between 2012 and this year.
The resolution followed the adoption of a motion which prayed the upper chamber to “constitute a high powered ad-hoc committee to investigate the alleged misuse, under remittance/non remittance and other fraudulent practices in the collection, accounting, remittance and expenditure of internally generated revenue by all revenue generating agencies of government from 2012 to 2016.”
A six-member panel of investigators to be headed by Senator Solomon Adeola, (Lagos West) was mandated to submit its report to Senate in plenary in six weeks.
Senator Adeola who sponsored the motion in his lead debate noted that Section 80,subsection 1-4 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria clearly stipulated that all revenue, moneys raised or received shall be paid as consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.
He further noted that the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 was enacted to ensure transparency, accountability and prevent corrupt practices in relation to public revenues and expenditure.
The lawmaker said he was aware that Section 21 -23 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 clearly limited corporations, agencies and government-owned companies listed in the Schedule to the Act to the expenditure of only a fifth of its operating surplus with the balance paid to the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government.
He expressed concern that the Acting Chairman of Fiscal Responsibility Commission, Mr. Victor Muruako on November 8 this year “raised the alarm over leakages in revenue and remittances which he said has assumed alarming proportion in the last five years with some Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) producing two different statement of accounts in an attempt to manipulate their operating surpluses and losses.”
Adeola said he was also aware that at “the last National Economic Council meeting, the Federal Government specifically accused revenue generating agencies of raising over N1.5 trillion and expending over 90 per cent on recurrent expenditure mostly in paying bloated salaries and controversial allowances above Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Committee, monetisation of medical allowances, unapproved overseas travels, lavish training allowances and excessive personal loan approval all amounting to financial misconducts.
He expressed worry that “these corporations, agencies and government-owned companies have over the years grossly violated the letters of the 1999 Constitution and the Fiscal Responsibility Act in relation to their revenue generation activities and expenditure.”
Adeola said various audit queries against the agencies over the years further indicated possible mismanagement of public funds against the spirit of the constitution and Fiscal Responsibility Act.
According to him, it is a matter of concern that in view of Federal Government dwindling revenue from the traditional crude oil sector and the on- going recession, “these government bodies continue to short change government of needed revenue through various illegal practices.”