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Published On: Tue, Jun 3rd, 2014

Finance C’ttee proposes creation of Office of Accountant General of FG

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By Hassan Haruna Ginsau

The committee on public finance and revenue has proposed the creation of the office of the account general of the Federal Government, separate from that of the federation.

Upon presenting the committee’s recommendations to delegates on the floor of the conference yesterday, the committee’s chairman, Adamu Aleiro said the committee had unanimously agreed that the office of the accountant general of the federation (AGF) should be separated from that of the Federal Government.

“Our committee therefore recommends that in order to enhance accountability, transparency and avoid mistrust between the three tiers of government, it is absolutely necessary that the office of the accountant general of the federal government be created strictly to manage the funds of the federal government, while the office of the AGF maintains the federation account for all the three tiers of Government,” said Aleiro, noting that this recommendation was long overdue and will necessitate amendment of the 1999 constitution.

In its report, the committee frowned upon the indiscriminate granting of duty and tax waivers. It is in this light that it recommended that departments and agencies that collect revenue must comply with section 162, subsection 3 of the 1999 constitution which requires them to remit gross revenues collected in full to the federation account, and resort to the normal budget process of attaining budget approval from the national assembly to fund their’ operations.

“The sections of the acts of these agencies that allow them to retain revenue as surplus to fund their operations should be amended. The government should also review the available fiscal incentives i.e. granting of waivers and tax exemptions in order to reduce revenue losses, he said.

Other recommendations the committee presented for deliberation were; the acceleration of the passage of the Petroleum Industry bill; introduction of systems of transparency, accountability and judicious application of taxes; that licensed professionals should be engaged as tax administrators to ensure proper assessment and accountability.

Other proposals included; collaboration with member bodies of economic cooperation and development on exchange of information for transparency on tax matters; the establishment of tax courts to eliminate slow court processes and revenue.

Although Nigeria’s Value added tax (VAT) rate being the lowest in Africa, the committee proposed the deferment of an upward review until a more efficient mechanism for collection and assessment is put in place.

Aleiro also noted that it was the opinion of the committee that solid minerals can be a veritable source of diversification of the country’s non-oil revenue base. When fully tapped, the country’s focus on oil dominance.

Deliberations on the committee’s report are still on-going with no recommendation adopted as at the end of yesterday’s session.

 

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