The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday expressed its resolve to plug revenue leakages so as to generate more income for the implementation of the 2016 budget.
The N6.08 trillion 2016 Appropriation Bill is currently before the National Assembly for scrutiny and passage.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, said the government may be sending auditors to some agencies with perceived excessive cost, not in line with government expectations.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered the decision was aimed at making ministries, departments and agencies operate within the approved limit so that the federal government can shore up its revenue.
“The principal discussion in our meeting today was the initiative by this administration to plug revenue leakages in our MDAs that generate revenue.
“The presentation to FEC was to remind ministers who supervise these revenue-generating boards of their responsibilities under the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
“Let me remind you that under Fiscal Responsibility Act, these boards and corporations who generate poor revenue are supposed to generate and operate surplus, 80 percent of which is to be credited to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
“But we have discovered that many agencies have never credited anything and never generated any operating surplus including some whose salaries, overheads, capital is paid by the federal government.
“Then in addition to that, they generate revenue which they spend without any form of control.
“So one of the big initiatives and changes of this administration is to bring all those agencies into line, to insist that they must submit a budget and that budget must be subject to approval and they must operate within that budget so that the surplus that is meant to come to the federal government can be seen to be used as appropriate,” Ms. Adeosun said.
She added that the key message is that change has now come to those agencies, boards and corporation, who have been hitherto operating without any control.
“We are reining them in and making sure that the money generated for all Nigerians is spent according to approval and any surplus then comes into the CRF to be used to fund other areas of government.
She said ministers had been asked to ensure that whether those agencies have boards, the budgets are prepared and that the Ministry of Finance meet with the supervising ministers and with the boards concerned where necessary to go through their budgets and make sure that the costs are not inflated.
“We also discussed that in some cases, because some agencies have a track record and history of making sure that every naira they earned is spent, that we will go in and audit agencies under Section 107 (8) of the Financial Regulations.
“The Accountant-General, who is under the Ministry of Finance has the powers to go in and make inquiries about how public money is spent, so we will be sending in auditors to some agencies where we believe everything that their cost is simply excessive and not in keeping with our expectations,” she said.
The minister said the expected outcome is that the internally generated revenue, which the new budget is banking on, would become a reality.
“So that was the principal discussion and everybody in the cabinet endorsed the initiative are in fully in support of it and agreed to make sure that these revenues cannot continue to leak as they have done in the past.
“We are going to make every naira count and in order to make every naira count, we have to know how much is coming in and control how it goes out,” she added.
Ms. Adeosun also said ministers and heads of agencies would defend their budgetary allocations with possible amendments.
She also declared that the administration would not condone padding of budgetary allocations, adding that contrary to insinuations the 2016 Budget has not been withdrawn from the National Assembly.
Also speaking, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, denied allegations that government was trying to intimidate the opposition, following the arrest of the spokesman of the opposition PDP, Olisa Metuh, over charges of fraud and money laundering by the EFCC.
While charging the press to independently investigate allegations of corruptions and make judgement, he said the “government is not micro-managing any of the anti-graft agencies”.
“I can assure you that no functionary in this government micromanages or directs the EFCC or ICPC on who to arrest and who not to arrest,” he added.