By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday directed the Accountant-General of Federation, Mallam Ahmed Idris to make available to it, capital releases to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) from January to October.
The House also asked the Accountant-General to submit the report of the mandatory return of 25% to the treasury by revenue generating MDAs from 2014 to date so that necessary actions will be taken to enable the funding of capital projects.
This is just as the Ministry of Education has proposed additional N64 billion to bring the total allocation to the sector to N 114 billion compared to N102 billion appropriated in 2018.
Minister of State for Education, Hon. Emeka Nwajuiba who made this known when he appeared before the House of Representatives committee on basic education led by Hon. Julius Ihonvbere (APC, Edo), said the current envelope of N 50.94 billion represent negative variance of N52 billion to the 2018 appropriation.
Nwajuba assured that the committee that, “ if the sum of N114 billion is approved in 2020, meaningful impact will be achieved in all tiers of the education system. The additional funding will be strictly applied to the critical projects and programmes highlighted”.
He stated that Ministry has obtained presidential approval for the establishment of six Federal Science and Technical Colleges in Kogi, Jigawa, Kano, Ebonyi, Imo and Oyo; Federal Universities of Health Sciences in Otukpo, Benue State, Federal University of Agriculture, Zuru, Kebbi State and Federal Polytechnics, Daura, Katsina State and Kaltungo, Gombe State in 2020.
These resolutions were reached Monday during the 2020 budget defence by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation before the House Committee on Finance, chaired by James Faleke (APC, Lagos).
The Committee after through questioning of the budget presented by the Accountant-General in which several infractions were noticed urged the agency to go back and do corrections and repo rt to the Committee for further defence.
Responding to some questions by Members of the Committee on how improve internally generated revenue, Idris called on the House Committee to liaise with its Senate counterpart to review the Fiscal Responsibility Act to compel revenue generating MDAs to make appropriate refunds to the treasury.
He noted that internally generated revenue alone is supposed to contribute to funding the 2020 budget by over N 3 trillion and more needs to be done improve the revenue correction profile of the country, hence the need for the National Assembly to bring all stakeholders together and iron out issues that hinder internal revenue generation.
“It is obvious that we are facing revenue challenges in the country, we need to make more efforts to see that revenue improves and come as expected. In my opinion what needs to be done is to look at the Fiscal Responsibility Act. Let it enforce the responsibility pertaining IGR, agencies must be alive to their responsibilities, they should not just collect revenues and spend them the way they want and the law should be made to work.
“All those who matter, particularly Senate Committee on Finance, House Committee on Finance should support those of us that collect revenue. Some revenue generating agencies, reject treasury offices. They hide under the acts setting them up that they can employ their own Accountants even if we are there, we will stick to the rules and regulations. The right assistance should come from the House”, Idris said.
The Accountant-General further disclosed that capital releases have been made to MDAs following the recent directives of President Muhammadu to that effect but that was dependent in priority areas.
“We have considered the latest release of capital and that is why we made some adjustments. We are aware of the Presidential directive that there should be roll over of projects and we know the percentage. That directive is in aggregates, not necessarily each MDA will have the same percentage.
“There could be variations in releases and this also depends largely on how strategic and priority agencies or projects are. That is what Mr. President has directed which we must comply with and I don’t think there is any Agency that does not have capital release. I am Accountant-General of the Federation, if there is any let them come out”, he added.