The House of Representatives, on Friday, rejected the representatives of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor and Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) insisting they appear personally to defend their 2024 budget proposals.
Also the representatives of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) were also rejected by the House Committee on Appropriation.
Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Abubakar Bichi, said at the committee’s budget defence session in Abuja on Friday that the heads of the agencies were duly invited for the interactive session.
Committee summons revenue agencies
Mr Bichi said the head of revenue agencies should appear before the committee on Monday to discuss their revenue projections.
Those invited are the Central Bank Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Zach Adedeji, the Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adeniyi, and other revenue generating agencies.
“We need to sit down with GEOs. They need to come up with more money so that we can support the president,” he said.
This comes barely three says after another committee of House of Representatives, the Committee on Public Petitions, has issued a warrant of arrest on the CBN governor, Olayemi Cardoso, for refusing to appear before it to answer questions on the oil sector.
The committee also ordered the arrest of the Accountant General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein, and 17 others.
Others are heads of Alteo Eastern E&P Co. Ltd., First Exploration & Production Ltd., The Md, First E&P Oml 8385 Jv, Heirs Holdings Oil and Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (Mpnu).
The decision was taken on Tuesday during the sitting of the committee while considering a petition filed by one Fidelis Uzowanem, who alleged multiple infractions committed by players in the oil and gas sector in connivance with government officials.
He said his petition was on the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) report of 2021.
Revenue profile low
Mr Bichi reiterated at the budget defence hearing on Friday that the total revenue is small, stating that Government-Owned Enterprises (GOEs) should be given a higher revenue target to ensure a reduction in the total deficit in the budget.
He said the revenue-generating agencies must generate money because, without money, there is no magic President Bola Tinubu will perform to ensure the full performance of the budget.
“The objective of this engagement is, among others, to provide highlights on some key issues in relation to the preparation, enactment, and implementation of the 2024 budget,” he said.
He said this includes strategies for addressing rising inflation, reducing the burden of Nigeria’s debt profile, sector budgetary allocations, and the dynamics of budget releases.
Others, according to committee chairman, are economic diversification strategies, revenue generation forecasts, and other useful information that will facilitate the enactment of the bill and effective implementation of the Appropriations Act, 2024.
He said there were concerns about addressing the infrastructure gap in the country, eliminating poverty, and generally achieving the 8-Point Renewed Hope Agenda.
Mr Bichi said there was a need to ensure that all loose ends to revenue were tied, adding that this could have a gross impact on the government’s ability to implement the 2024 Appropriation Bill.
“While the revised MTEF (Medium Term Expenditure Framework) and FSP (Fiscal Strategy Paper) showed that revenue-generating efforts by the present administration are already yielding fruit, more needs to be done.
“This is to ensure that government-owned enterprises optimise their revenue-generating potential,” he said.
Nigeria collects 10 per cent revenue – Minister
Also speaking, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Atiku Bagudu, said the interactive session represented a beckon of light to shed light on the budget.
“Mr. President is ambitious, and he is very clear that Nigeria is not where it is; the revenue we collect is about 10 per cent, and the president has directed that we raise it to 18 per cent.”
“We understand that the lawmakers are interested in how money is spent. You are also interested in how you can cooperate with the executive to ensure we take Nigeria to a greater height’’, he said.
Mr Bagudu, a former governor of Kebbi State, said the 2024 proposal had increased spending, which included infrastructure and education, among others, adding that the budget appropriation had included a proposal for $100 billion for the Sustainable Agriculture Fund.
According to him, the federal government also wants to ensure that the nation’s manufacturing sector will worry less about demand than production.
He therefore said that “all of us must work together to ensure we interrogate the revenue-generating agencies.
“We need a budget that can be trusted. We don’t have the money; we are looking for the money, so that is why we need to interrogate the revenue-generating agencies.”
Mr Bagudu said Nigeria has the smallest budget compared to countries of similar status.
“Of the 10 most populous countries in the world, we have the smallest budget. Mexico with 120 million people has about $314 billion in annual budget. Brazil, which follows us in population ranking, has about a $700 billion federal budget.
“The only country that we are close to is Pakistan which does not have the same resources as us. But even Pakistan, their federal budget for 2024 is 45 billion US dollars. In dollar terms, even at the N750 exchange rate we are about N35 billion,” he said.
He explained that the current N27.5 trillion budget is less than $35 billion, adding that Nigeria is only at par with Pakistan in terms of revenue.
The N27.5 trillion 2024 budget, presented to the National Assembly by President Tinubu last week, is projected to be funded with N18.32 trillion in revenue.
Of the aggregate revenue, N7.94 trillion or 43.3 per cent is projected to come from oil-related sources and the balance of N10.39 trillion is to be earned from non-oil sources.
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