With recent annual federal budgets showing a consistent deficit, the federal government on Tuesday took steps to reverse the trend, amidst the continued dwindling profile of government revenues from crude oil exports.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said one of the strategies the government was adopting was the deployment of directors of revenue and treasury to select federal government-owned agencies to enhance the government revenue drive.
The minister said the exercise is to ensure the strict adherence to extant rules and regulations in enforcement of compliance to approved budget and due process mechanisms in procurement and payments.
Mrs Ahmed was speaking on Tuesday in Abuja at the orientation programme organised by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation for directors of revenue and treasury in federal government agencies.
The minister spoke of the dangers of continuing to rely on oil as the major source of public revenue, noting that as a highly volatile commodity, oil revenues would always dwindle with each shock in the global oil market price, since it is not within the government’s control.
To overcome the dangers of the unpredictable boom and burst cycles of the oil prices on the country’s economy, the minister said the government decided to take advantage of the non-oil revenues potentials and strengthen them.
Citing the example of the increased revenue haul from the recently hiked value added tax rate from 5 to 7.5 per cent through the Finance Act 2019, the minister said this has encouraged the government to step up efforts in diversifying the revenue base by its revenue generating agencies.
She said the government’s recent review revealed that federal government-owned entities hold huge potentials and capacities to significantly improve revenue generation, if properly managed.
Consequently, she said the deployment of the treasury directors to select government agencies as a pilot test was in compliance with the approval by President Muhammadu Buhari as part of the Revenue Performance Management Framework for Government Owned Enterprises (FGOEs) in 2018.
While on the assignment, the minister said the redeployed directors shall be involved in the revenue operations of their respective agencies an d enterprises, by ensuring they have a better understanding of business processes and operations and causing improved transparency and accountability in their revenue reporting.
In addition, the directors are to seek for opportunities and avenues for revenue improvements to boost the government’s overall revenue base.
To assist in discharging their duties and responsibilities effectively, the directors would be supported with the deployment of the Integrated Revenue Monitoring System to help the monitoring of the revenues of the agencies online real-time and to ensure its improved transparency and accountability.
The Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, said ten directors were deployed to various federal revenue agencies and enterprises out of the initial 50 recommended by a technical committee constituted for the implementation of the policy.
Mr Idris said the initiative was to achieve transparency and accountability of government revenue with special focus on federal government-owned enterprises, improved revenue performance and ultimately to provide sustainable source of funding for Government budget execution.
Poor remittances on operating surpluses
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said the initiative to post professional treasury officers to select federal owned enterprises was to enable them have a better understanding of the business processes and operations of the agencies, to help in the review of the current systems, policies and procedures in revenue administration and management.
The policy, he said, was a reform initiative aimed at generating more revenue and associated remittance into the government treasury and to also improve the operational performance of all GOEs.
He expressed concern that the government had observed that a number of its agencies have been remitting less operating surpluses to the Consolidated Revenue Fund than was required by law and/or financial regulations.