The Senate, on Thursday, frowned at the infringement on the Fiscal Responsibility Act by certain agencies of the Federal Government.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, and his counterpart in the Ethics and Privileges, Pius Akinyelure faulted submission of the Director-General Budget Office, Dr Ben Akabueze, who justified revenue generation office deduction of the fund beyond the statutory 20 per cent allowed by the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
Responding to questions in the ongoing Five-Day Public Hearing on the 2021-2023 MTEF/FSP by heads of revenue-generating agencies, organised by the Joint Senate Committee on Finance and Planning, Dr Akabueze insisted that there was no breach of the Act, as he declared that such agencies got presidential approval from President Muhammadu Buhari to take from the revenue generated beyond their statutory limit.
Senator Adeola, however, disagreed as he submitted that the Fiscal Responsibility Act, a creation of the Parliament was not subordinate to a mere presidential discretionary power.
The Chairman Senate Committee on Finance advised the Budget Office to initiate an Executive Bill, proposing an amendment of the Fiscal Responsibility Act rather than observing the law in the breach.
The face-off between the lawmakers and the DG, Budget Office was a sequel to the controversy over revenue generated by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS last year and the specific amount is deducted.
Lending his voice to the argument, Senator Akinyelure cautioned that henceforth, Chief Executive Officers of revenue agencies should not trample on the existing Act.
He said: ” Where you have an issue with the law, you are supposed to come to the National Assembly to amend the law.
“Anything administrative, it gives room for leakages and for things to happen and you cannot hold the agency CEO responsible.
“When it is a matter of the law, you have the basis to punish defaulters by showing them the law they have defaulted. Administrative policies can be manipulated.”
The Senator representing Ondo central further submitted that lack of sincerity by revenue-generating agencies in the country was responsible for consistent budget deficit by the Federal Government.
“The whole idea of this function is how do we achieve a significant reduction in the budget deficit? Why can’t we run a surplus budget? Our economy is so endowed with resources that can make us operate a surplus budget if the revenue collectors are sincere.
“Where you have an issue with the law, you are supposed to come to the National Assembly to amend the law.”
The DG Budget Office in his response pleaded with the lawmakers and further gave an indication that the Presidency would seek an amendment of the Act.
“Distinguished Chairman your point has been noted and we shall draft a document with a language that is not too rigid and come with it for legislative input.”
infringement on Fiscal Responsibility Act