Reps move to criminalise non-remittance of IGR by statutory agencies

• Strip over 850 MDAs extant powers to spend IGR as defaulting MDAs increase

A bill which seeks to criminalise non-remittance of internally generated revenues (IGR) by various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has been gazetted for legislative action in the House of Representatives.

Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Honourable Benjamin Kalu, sponsored the ‘Bill for an Act to require statutory bodies to prepare and forward to the National Assembly through the President annual reports of its operations and finances; and for related matters’.

The proposed legislation is coming amidst grave concerns over the increase in the number of MDAs who fail to adhere to relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and extant financial regulations.

Information gathered by Tribune Online showed that, in 2011, 76 MDAs failed to submit audited reports, in 2012, no fewer than 85 MDAs defaulted; in 2013, total number of 109 MDAs defaulted; in 2014, at least 148 MDAs defaulted; in 2015, total number of 215 MDAs did not submit the audit report while in 2016 323 MDAs also defaulted in submitting the required annual audit reports to oAuGF for scrutiny.

Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAuGF) had in its recent audit report indicated that 265 MDAs violated the fiscal and audit rules governing the operations of government accounts in the 2017 fiscal year, resulting in non-remittance of over N300 billion into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

In his 2016 report, the Auditor-General complained that “most of the government corporations, companies and commissions have not submitted their audited accounts for 2016 to me.”

From the report, as of April 2018, 109 agencies had not submitted (their audited accounts) beyond 2013, 76 agencies last submitted for the 2010 financial year while 65 agencies have never submitted any account since inception.

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This same scenario, even worse repeated itself as shown in the 2017 audit report, as the Auditor-General re-affirmed that as of June 30, 2019, 160 agencies defaulted in the submission of audited accounts for 2016; 265 agencies defaulted in submission of audited accounts for 2017; while 11 agencies had never submitted any financial statements since inception.

Some of the issues raised in the 2017 report included the delay of the passage of the budget and how it affected the MDAs in the implementation of projects.

A summary of the report shows a lack of revenue remittance by some revenue-generating agencies of government.

According to the report, the MDAs that deduct the statutory Withholding Taxes, Value Added Taxes, Stamp Duty, Capital Gains Tax and other statutory taxes did not carry out their duties appropriately to the benefit of the Federal Government, thereby leading to a significant reduction in revenue accruable to the Federal Government.

It further stated that 16 revenue-generating agencies did not remit a total of N19,025,384,100.29 to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, with the Bureau of Public Enterprise topping the list of unremitted revenue, with the sum of N7,585,116,400.00

We also found that revenue-generating agencies dissipate funds on excessive overhead expenditure and extra-budgetary expenditure on contracts thereby reducing their operating surplus.

Furthermore, 26 of the MDAs that were audited did not deduct and/or remit a total of N1,650,417,379.30. Overall, the audit found that the sum of N20,675,801,479.59 in various taxes (PAYE, WHT, VAT, etc.) in the year under review, was not remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government by the MDAs.

Considering the multiplicity of the existing federal agencies estimated at over 850 established by the Acts of National Assembly, Clause 6(1 & 2) of the bill, provides that the bill “consequentially amends all Acts of the National Assembly establishing statutory bodies in Nigeria.

“The amendment thereof shall bring such Acts of the National Assembly in conformity with the provisions of this Bill.”

As proposed by Honourable Kalu, Clause 1(1) of the bill provides that “Except otherwise provided by the Constitution, where by an Act of the National Assembly, power, on any matter within the legislative competence of the National Assembly is conferred on a statutory body to prepare an annual report of its operation, the provisions of this Bill shall apply notwithstanding any contrary provision in the Act or any other law.

Section 1(2) The provisions of this Bill shall apply to statutory bodies set up pursuant to the Constitution or an Act of the National Assembly but shall not apply to professional bodies established pursuant to an Act of the National Assembly.

In the bid to ensure compliance with the provisions of the legislation, Clause 2 stated that “it shall be unlawful for any statutory body listed referred to under section 1 (2) of this Act not to comply with the provisions of this Bill.”

The proposed legislation made it mandatory for “all statutory bodies shall prepare a report of its operations and finance and auditor’s report for the immediate succeeding year and submit same to the President not later than 31st March of each year.”

Clause 4(1 & 2) of the bill, also provides that the “President shall cause the reports submitted to him pursuant to section 3 of this Act to be forward to both Houses of the National Assembly within 30 days of receipt of such report. Upon receipt of the report forwarded pursuant to subsection (1) of this section, the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall on the next legislative day announce the receipt of such report in the plenary session and refer same to appropriate committee(s).”

On the ‘duties of Committees of the National Assembly’, Clause 5 of the bill provides that: “Committees of each House of the National Assembly shall apply report(s) brought before it towards: oversight functions; investigation of the activities of statutory bodies and assessment for budgetary compliance; etc.”

In the case of gross misconduct, Clause 7(1, 2, 3 & 4), provide that: “A person who contravenes a provision of this Bill is liable to gross misconduct in service and on the recommendation of both houses of the National Assembly disciplinary action shall be commenced, according to the law or the rule of service, which is applicable, against him or her.

“Nothing in this section shall prejudice the prosecution of a person undergoing disciplinary action or preclude such person from being prosecuted or punished for an offence in a court of law.

“Where a person who is a public officer is liable under this Bill, unless he shows reasonable cause which is sufficient for his or her pardon, he or she shall be personally liable.

“The person referred to in subsection (1) of this section shall be the head of a statutory body.”

Under the schedule are: Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Education Tax Fund (ETF), Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Federal Character Commission, Federal Government Staff Housing Board, Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC).

Others include: Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Industrial Training Fund (ITF), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructures (NASENI), National Assembly Service Commission (NASC), National Automotive Council (NAC), National Board for Community Banks (NBCB), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), National Boundary Commission, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), National Business and Technical Examination Board (NBTEB), National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation, National Centre for Economic Management and Administration, National Centre for Women Development, National Commission for Colleges of Education, National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education, National Commission for Nomadic Education, National Commission for Refugees, National Directorate of Employment (NDE), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), National Examinations Council (NECO).

Included in the schedule are: National Film and Video Censors Board, National Gallery of Arts, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), National Hospital for Women and Children, National Human Rights Commission, National Inland Waterways Authority, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), National Institute of Sports, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), National Library of Nigeria, National Manpower Board, National Mathematical Centre, National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), National Orientation Agency (NOA), National Park Service, National Planning Commission, National Population Commission (NPC), National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), National Productivity Centre, National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, National Sugar Development Council, National Universities Commission (NUC), National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Nigeria Prison Service, Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Nigerian Coal Corporation, Nigerian College of Aviation Technology.

The bill also include: Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Nigerian Educational Research and Development Centre, Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Nigerian Film Corporation, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Nigerian Law Reform Commission, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigerian Pilgrims Commission, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).

Also included are: Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Agency, Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, River Basin Development Authorities, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Sheda Science and Technology Complex, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Tertiary educational institutions established by an Act of the National Assembly, Research institutions established by an Act of the National Assembly, Other statutory bodies as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly.

According to the ‘Explanatory Memorandum, the bill “seeks to require statutory bodies to prepare and forward to the National Assembly through the President annual reports of its operations and finances and for the enhancement of transparency and accountability by statutory bodies.”

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