Ensure FG’s accountability to fix loopholes in public finances space – Epia

Sharon EboesomiJune 13, 20246 min

According to OrderPaper’s Epia, Nigeria’s debt increased by a startling 585% between 2015 and 2023, from N12.8 trillion to N87.91 trillion. Ensure FG's accountability to fix loopholes in the public finances space - Epia

The Executive Director, OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative, Oke Epia, has called on Nigerians to ensure government’s accountability in order to fix and block the loopholes and leakages in the public finances space.

This is as he expressed hope that Nigeria’s economy will benefit from the amended Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), spurring growth and development.

Epia made this known while speaking at a national policy dialogue on public finance management and fiscal reforms on Monday,  June 3, 2024 in Abuja.

The National Policy Dialogue organised in Abuja by OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative, Nigeria’s foremost parliamentary monitoring organisation and policy think tank, was themed: “Fiscal reforms and current economic climate.”

Lamenting over the corruption and waste that has bedeviled the public finance management, Epia said, “Our governance continues to go south. We continue to complain and bemoan. In all of this, the heart of the matter is the fact that we are not able to fix our public finance management. 

“There continue to be concerns and lack of evidence of mismanagement of resources.

We want to ask the public to hold government to account by asking government, specifically the national assembly to speed up the amendment of the fiscal responsibility act 2007, and we are asking the general public to call on their lawmakers and members of the house of representatives to put the pressure on them to fix the loopholes and block the loopholes leakages that are inherent in our public finances space around remittances, around lack of accountability.”

READ ALSO: Amendment of FRA can ensure macro economic stability – Muruako 

According to OrderPaper’s ED, Epia, Nigeria’s national debt increased by a startling 585% between 2015 and 2023, from N12.8 trillion to N87.91 trillion. 

He stated that in order to guarantee sustainable growth in the nation, economic diversification and the growth of other sectors are necessary.

He said: “From the rise in Nigeria’s total debt stock at N12.85 trillion in 2015 to a staggering N87.91 trillion in September 2023. The bungled N22.7 trillion Ways and Means facility to the federal government, to the ever-changing forex rates, inflation, and economic hardships, current fiscal policy failures are evident.

“Recently, citizens have been met with a flurry of tax burdens, such as the removal of fuel subsidies, which has led to an over 300% increase in the price of fuel.  Further, recently proposed cybersecurity levy of 0.5% has been met with public backlash, given the existing bank charges such as electronic transactions varying transfer fees, stamp duties at N50, N4 SMS charges per transaction, and Value Added Tax (VAT).

“Despite these streams of revenue generation schemes, the country’s public finance, debt profile and fiscal health continue to take a downward turn. On the other hand, the inflation rates have risen as high as 33.69 per cent in April 2024, as the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported.”

Also speaking at the dialogue was the Chairman of the Fiscal Responsibility commission (FRC), Victor Muruako who was represented by his special assistant, Chris Uwadoka.

According to him, the idea of democracy, transparency and accountability is for leaders to understand that power is held on behalf of the people. 

He said, “I urge us as responsible citizens, who we feel strongly about things like this, public finance management, to write, if we cannot directly speak to our representatives, write to them, make our points clear. They also need to hear these arguments to enable them to prepare their own arguments and presentations.

“l want to particularly call attention to the need to amend the Fiscal Reconciliations Act 2007 to reflect realities and developments that have emerged since the enactment of this beautiful act about 60 years ago. 

“We have seen where the gaps are. Gaps have been identified and we as a commission have been calling, appealing, pushing, begging, arguing and we have friends who have equally supported us in these arguments and these appeals for the updating of the act through an amendment.”

Subsequently, he called on all relevant parties to keep using the platforms at their disposal to share knowledge, best practices, and creative solutions that will contribute to a stable and successful future.

This is another beginning of an amendment process. We have had attempts since the 7th Assembly.  In the 9th Assembly, it perished at the Public Hearing Stage. We are confident that the process will run its full course this time around.

“The journey is still long. Therefore, I use this opportunity to urge all relevant parties, particularly the people here today to continue to throw their weight and voice behind this noble issue of the FRA amendment,” he added.

Sharon Eboesomi

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