Reps query poor release of fund to MDAs capital projects in 2019

⦁ Demand for details of 25% operating surplus of MDAs
⦁ As FG targets N3trn from revenue agencies to fund 2020 budget
⦁ Ministry of Education seeks approval for N64 billion in 2020 budget

The House of Representatives on Monday expressed displeasure over alleged poor funding of various capital projects of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the 2019 Appropriation Act.

The resolution was passed during the 2020 budget defence by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation before the House Committee on Finance.

Worried by the development, the House Committee on Finance chaired by Hon. Abiodun Faleke directed the Accountant-General of Federation, Ahmed Idris to provide details of the funds released to various MDAs between January and October 2019 for legislative scrutiny.

The House also asked the Accountant-General to submit the report of the mandatory return of 25% operating surplus of MDAs to the Treasury by revenue-generating MDAs from 2014 to date so that necessary actions will be taken to improve on the funding of capital projects.

The Committee after thorough questioning of the budget presented by the Accountant-General expressed displeasure over several infractions observed in the documents submitted to the Committee, urged the agency to clean up the grey area and revert back to the Committee.

Responding to some questions by Members of the Committee on how to improve internally generated revenue, Mr Idris called for the review the Fiscal Responsibility Act with the view to compel all 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 N3 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 to 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.

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“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 a rollover 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.

In a related development, the Federal Ministry of Education has proposed additional N64 billion to bring the total allocation to the sector to N114 billion against the sum of N102 billion appropriated in 2018.

For 2019, Federal Ministry of Education got an approval of N58.689 billion.

In his remarks, the Minister of State for Education, Hon. Emeka Nwajuba who made this known when he appeared before the House of Representatives on Basic Education Chaired by Julius Ihonvbere, said the current envelope of N50.94 billion represents the negative variance of N52 billion to the 2018 appropriation.

Hon. Nwajuba assured that the Committee that: “if the sum of N114 billion is approved in 2020, the meaningful impact will be achieved in all tiers of the education system. The additional funding will be strictly applied to critical projects.”

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