…as Reps reject Presidencyâ€™s 3-yr revenue projections
By Tordue Salem
ABUJA â€” Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Dimeji Bankole, in a tough speech yesterday indicted the Executive and one of his predecessors, Alhaji Aminu Masari, for the spate of un-remitted revenues to the Federation Account by ministries and agencies of government.
The Speakerâ€™s indicting statement came on the heels of a thorough and damning assessment of the â€œMedium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (Revised) for 2010-2012â€ by the House as submitted to the National Assembly by the Presidency.
The Speaker who took on the civil service, the Budget Office, the Finance Ministry and other contributing factors to the failure of budgets over the years, put the blame on the Executive arm of government, as he took his pound of flesh on former Speaker of the House, Alhaji Masari for frustrating his efforts to tackle the fraud of non-remittances, while he (Bankole) served as Deputy Chairman, Committee on Finance.
â€œHonourable members, I think we have to, at this point, be frank with ourselves. I know there is going to be a backlash about the announcement I am about to make. And I hope we are ready for the backlash. Honourable members are we ready for the backlash?
â€œThank God, the former Leader of the House (Rep. Abdul Ningi) is here. As the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Finance at the time he was part of the leadership, I submitted a report on government agencies that were not remitting internally-generated revenue to the government and submitted it to the leadership of the House and nothing was done about it and today we are talking about the same thing.
â€œI have always insisted that when you do a budget, you should think of the input, output and outcome of the budget, and honourable members that is exactly what we are trying to do today.
We have achieved results, no matter what we may say, we had parliaments before you and I came, what did they do about un-remitted monies? We had parliaments, before you elected me Speaker and my dear brother, Usman Bayero Nafada, what did they do about all these? he queried.
He then turned his flak on the Executive, blaming it for abandoned developmental projects and un-remitted revenues, as he added that Legislature should not be seen as taking partisan lines in its constitutional duty of investigation and oversight.
â€œNow, it is obvious that the civil service is the problem. It is painfully obvious, and there is nothing anybody can do about it.
â€œIn the 2009 budget, over 60 per cent of the releases made were not utilised. After the end of the fiscal year, over N500 billion is still at the Central Bank of Nigeria today. So that is not the problem of the National Assembly any longer, it is the Executive that is the problem.
â€œI am hereby calling on the Committee on Due Process to ask questions on monies not released for projects in the 2009 budget. It is sad that even projects awarded three months ago, the contractors are yet to be paid, and where they are paid, they do not mobilise to site,â€ he said.
He said the oversight of the Ministries by the House of Representatives, â€œis not a Parliament Versus Executive, and it is not a PDP versus ANPP, but it is just for us to ask questions that will move our nation forward.â€
Still on un-remitted, he promised that â€œnext year will be a different ball game,â€ and declared that the â€œN700 billion reported by ministries earlier in the year to be the amount not remitted may be conservative, if we decide to do our job very well this time.â€
Earlier, members led by the Leader of the House, Tunde Akogun, picked apart the mid-term expenditure framework submitted to both chambers of the National Assembly by the Presidency, and concluded that it was too conservative on its revenue projections at a time when revenue accruing to the coffers of government were on a gallop.