•says infrastructure can’t only be built on foreign loans
By Christiana Ekpa
Speakereaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has said that the parliament will impose deep cuts on the cost of governance going forward.
He also said that Nigeria cannot solely rely on foreign loans and external assistance to build the infrastructures that would benefit millions of Nigerians.
According to him, the country should also look inwards to strengthen its revenue base.
Gbajabiamila who spoke yesterday in Abuja while declaring open a 5 day interactive session between the House Joint Committees on Finance, Appropriation, National Planning and Economic Development, and Aids, Loans and Debt Management and the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs of government on Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper, (FSP) Revenue Considerations bemoaned serial failures by the revenue generating agencies to make remittances.
He said: “Our country is currently facing a fiscal crisis, compounded by the intense disruption that has been wrought on our economic performance and financial projections by the Covid 19 pandemic.
“We are not the only ones. Nations all over the world, including those we rightly consider to be leading lights, are facing a moment of reckoning that is redefining the way Government operates. Already, we have had to carry out severe cuts to the 2020 Appropriation Act, while at the same time borrowing more to fund urgent development needs and implement interventions to help the most vulnerable of our citizens get through these trying times with some dignity.
“All of us in the House of Representatives recognise that the challenges we now face will not abate in the medium term. Yet, we are committed to using the appropriations process as a tool for accomplishing our nation’s most pressing development objectives.
“We have a responsibility to act with urgent determination to build the infrastructure of opportunity that is required to lift millions of our fellow citizens out of poverty. We recognise that we cannot accomplish these objectives using loans and outside financing alone. Therefore, we need impose deep cuts in the cost of governance and improve internal revenue generation and collection so that we can free up resources that can then be deployed to fund policy initiatives that will enhance the lives of our people.
“The revenue-generating agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria have a vital role to play in this regard.
“There has thus far been a consistent failure to adhere to the revenue remittance agreements to which many of these agencies have committed. We have credible reports that these desperately needed funds have in many cases, been diverted to finance unnecessary trivialities. At the same time, the Government is left scrambling for alternative sources to fund priority projects. We cannot afford this dynamic, and we will not tolerate it any more.”
The Speaker said that the legislature being the keeper of the national treasury will ensure that the public resources were efficiently administered to benefit the people.
“The legislature remains the keeper of the public purse, with broad constitutional authority to act on behalf of the Nigerian people, to ensure that our collective resources are efficiently administered in service of the public good. Let no one be in doubt, the House of Representatives will not hesitate to act on our constitutional authority notwithstanding whatever objections may arise.
“You have gathered here today to begin an important assignment that will have broad impact on our nation’s future. I ask that you keep this in mind at all times. Ensure that your engagements are grounded in a shared determination to help our beloved nation reach its promise of peace and prosperity for all”, Gbajabimila said.