OrderPaperToday – President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said that the National Assembly will mount more pressure on revenue-generating agencies.

This is to ensure that they generate and remit N1 trillion in revenues annually to enable the federal government to fund its budget. Lawan stated this in his remarks after the chamber approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s submission of the revised 2022-2024 fiscal framework. 

 The Senate President explained that generating more revenues through the agencies will reduce the government’s deficit and dependence on external borrowing to fund the country’s national budget. He noted that increased revenue could be realised if the Executive and Legislature collaborate to ensure that revenue generating agencies remit all monies collected to the treasury.   

Furthermore, Lawan added that “I’m sure that those MDAs that remitted N400 billion could possibly generate and remit N1 trillion naira, if we had pushed harder. So, we need to push harder because what this means is that several MDAs have been cornering funds that ordinarily should have gone to the treasury.”

Also, he stated that for many years the agencies have been taking the funds unfairly and illegally. Thus the government should not be content with only N400 billion naira. “It is a good thing that it happened, because that is an exposure of what they have been doing. But we must insist that it goes beyond the N400 billion. I’m sure we can get even more than N1 trillion,” he said 

In addition, Lawan said he agreed on the need for more revenues to have a budget with less deficit. “But we can only achieve that if the Executive and Legislature work hard to ensure that the revenue generating and collecting agencies perform their jobs very well. And also ensure they remit the funds to the treasury,” Lawan added. 

Further speaking on the government’s resort to external borrowing, Lawan said, “I also agree that the deficit or the borrowing is a bit high. But then again, the choice is limited, because on one breadth we cannot say that we will not borrow because it is becoming too much. Since we don’t have ways and means of funding infrastructural development in the country.”

Likewise, he added that “we cannot say we should just fold our arms and not do anything because the country will never move. So, it’s a catch-22 situation. I believe that we need to be very mindful that we need to reduce the borrowing, but that means we have to improve on the revenue that we receive.”

In closing his remark on the need for MDAs to generate and remit N1 trillion, Lawan stated that, “I believe the additional revenues that have not been captured like the TETFUND, Bank of Industry and so on were before just left out of the federal budget. Now, we can see everything, and we need to see more.”

Contributing to the debate on the revised 2022-2024 fiscal framework, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North) advised the federal government to take the issue of diversifying the Nigerian economy seriously. The lawmaker harped on the need to explore alternative revenue sources such as mining to boost the country’s revenue figures, warning that “the time of oil is over”.

Similarly, Senator Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers West) described the government’s decision to jerk the 2022 budget projection from 13.98 trillion to N16.45 as over-ambitious and a proposal taken too far. She added that one of the significant challenges confronting the national budget is the absence of funds appropriated for under-recovery. 

While making her remarks, Apiafi stated that “no matter how much you get in terms of revenue, and we are really struggling, under-recovery can wipe that out” the lawmaker said.

Also, she called for sanctions on any Ministry, Department and Agency of Government found to have violated the provisions of the Appropriations Act. The lawmaker then insisted that the sum of N510 billion for Service Wide Vote in the 2022-2024 revised framework was “outrageous.” She added that the National Assembly must be given a breakdown on how the executive would use the amount.  

Meanwhile, a total of six bills on Wednesday scaled second reading in the Senate.

The bills are Disaster and Risk Management Council of Nigeria Bill, 2021; Federal Capital Territory University of Science and Technology Abaji (Establishment) Bill, 2021; and Microbiology Council of Nigeria Bill, 2021.

Others are the Federal Eye Centre, Ochadamu Bill, 2021; A bill to Repeal the Legal Practitioners Act, 2004; and the Legal Education Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021. 

The bills were referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committees on Establishment and Public Service; Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND; Health (Secondary and Tertiary); and Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters. 

The Committees were all given four weeks to report back to the upper chamber. 

Lastly, in a related development, President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for the confirmation of Engr. Farouk A. Ahmed, as Chief Executive Officer of the Board of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority. He was referred to the Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) by the Senate President. The Committee is expected to report back in four weeks. 

Also referred was the President’s request to confirm Hon. Justice Husseini Baba Yusuf as Chief Judge of the FCT High Court, Abuja. The request was referred to the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for the Committee to also report back in four weeks. 

Courtesy: Office of the President of the Senate 

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