The Nigerian Senate has initiated moves to ensure strict compliance with fiscal transparency and accountability by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government sequel to the consideration of a bill to repeal and re-enact the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.
Sponsor of the bill, Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed (APC, Adamawa Central), in her lead debate, said there are “deficiencies that render implementation and enforcement of the provisions of the Act too administrative, especially without clear cut punitive measures” as consequence for violations.
According to the lawmaker, in order to make the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) more effective, “there is need to make public consultation mandatory and not discretionary by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.”
She added, “There should be corporate debt limits clearly defined for the three tiers of Government in the MTEF and the strategies for its reduction and sustainability.”
The lawmaker stated further that the bill under amendment, which is intended to improve compliance to fiscal transparency and accountability, makes it mandatory for all corporations and agencies to prepare and submit detailed revenue and expenditure estimates to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
The bill also reinforces the remittance of operational surpluses of eighty percent by Government corporations and agencies to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CFR) as contained in Section 22 of the existing Act.
The piece of legislation also provides for sanctions to all categories of infringements of the Fiscal Responsibility Act such as payment of Fines, prison sentence or both and other punitive measures as may be ordered by the court.
She added that the bill, which seeks to establish the Fiscal Responsibility Council, will guarantee improvement in implementation and compliance with of the Fiscal Responsibility Act to ensure transparency and accountability in the nation’s resources.
Contributing to the debate, Senator Ibikunle Amosun (APC, Ogun Central) said that for Nigeria to make progress as a country, the Bill to repeal and re-enact the Fiscal Responsibility Act, if passed by the National Assembly, “will deepen accountability and reduce corruption.”
The bill, which scaled second reading during plenary, was referred to the Committee on Finance by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, who presided over Thursday’s plenary session.
The Finance Committee which is expected to carry out further legislative work on the bill is Chaired by Senator Olamilekan Adeola (APC – Lagos West) and expected to report back to the Senate in four weeks.
Meanwhile, four separate bills seeking to establish the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State; the Federal University, Birnin-Kebbi; the College of Education, Mutum Biyu, Taraba State; and Federal University of Technology, Manchok, Kaduna State, all passed second reading on the floor.
The bills were referred by Senator Omo-Agege to the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND.