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Nigerian Senate demands strict fiscal compliance of MDAs

Nigerian Senate in a Plenary Session

* Seeks fiscal responsibility, punitive sanctions for violations

Isola Moses

To avert financial recklessness with the taxpayers’ money, ensure fiscal responsibility in public expenditure, and curb corruption, the Nigerian Senate has introduced measures to ensure strict compliance with fiscal transparency and accountability by the government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

ConsumerConnect learnt that the latest move by the Upper Legislature is sequel to the consideration of a bill to repeal and re-enact the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.

Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed (Adamawa Central), the sponsor of the bill, in her lead debate, said there are “deficiencies that render implementation and enforcement of the provisions of the Act too administrative, especially without clear-cut punitive measures” as consequence for violations.

According to Senator Ahmed, to make the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) more effective, “there is a need to make public consultation mandatory and not discretionary by the Minister for Finance, Budget and National Planning.”

“There should be corporate debt limits clearly defined for the three tiers of Government in the MTEF and the strategies for its reduction and sustainability,” the Federal lawmaker intoned.

She further stated that the bill, currently under amendment, is intended to improve compliance with fiscal transparency and accountability.

It also makes it mandatory for all corporations and agencies to prepare and submit detailed revenue and expenditure estimates to the Minister for Finance, Budget and National Planning.

The bill also reinforces the remittance of operational surpluses of 80 percent by Government corporations and agencies to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CFR) as contained in Section 22 of the existing Act.

The legislation as well provides for sanctions to all categories of infringements on the Fiscal Responsibility Act, such as payment of fines, prison sentence or both, and other punitive measures as may be ordered by the court.

The bill, which seeks to establish the Fiscal Responsibility Council, will guarantee improvement in implementation and compliance with of the Fiscal Responsibility Act to ensure transparency and accountability in the nation’s resources, Senator Aishatu Ahmed added.

Senator Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun Central) in his contribution to the debate, stated that for Nigeria to make progress as a country, the Bill to repeal and re-enact the Fiscal Responsibility Act, if passed by the National Assembly (NASS), “will deepen accountability and reduce corruption.”

The bill, which scaled second reading during a plenary session recently, was referred to the Committee on Finance by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy Senate President, who presided over the plenary session Thursday, February 6.

The Finance Committee, chaired by Senator Olamilekan Adeola (Lagos West), is expected to carry out further legislative work on the bill.

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