By Umar Muhammad Puma
Barring significant changes that would meet the needs of fiscal discipline, the passage of the 2014 Budget may be stalled given the fact that there appears to be no synergy between the budget office and some revenue generating ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
The facts regarding this matter emerged yesterday at the continuation of meetings between the House of Representatives Committee on Finance and some independent revenue generating agencies.
The suspension of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor did not afford the institution the chance to make its submission before the committee.
The representative sent by the CBN was not able to make any submission. Equally, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) had their presentations deferred till tomorrow due to lack of clarity and inconsistencies in their submissions. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which was billed to appear before the committee yesterday, could not and was given till today to do so.
Chairman of the committee, Abdulmumini Jibrin raised an eyebrow over the implication of lack of harmony between the budget office and the MDAs following submissions by NIMASA and FAAN, both of which stated that their organisations did not interface with the budget office which submitted revenue projections for them to the committee.
According to Jibrin, the 2014 appears to have a lacuna and is therefore not realistic.
“Going by what we have just heard, it shows that the budget may only accumulate debts,” he noted.
Also querying why there is a gap between the budget provisions and remittances of some of the MDAs, the chairman wondered why they expend money that they were supposed to remit. “Why will you spend without remitting. Your action is in breach of the laws of the land. We have to find ways out of this. Over the years the pattern of generation and remittances take the same pattern. Why? The whole thing looks like some arranged figures,” Jibrin stressed.
Based on this and the fact that some of the agencies like NIMASA spent without recourse to appropriation, Jibrin directed them to go and review their submissions and reflect their actual remittances.