*** I don’t have the list of our debtors, NTA DG
By Henry Umoru
The Senate said Friday that all revenues accrued to revenue-generating agencies should now go into the consolidated revenue fund henceforth.
Speaking in Abuja during the ongoing interactive session of the Senate Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning on projected revenues estimated in the 2021 – 2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper ( FSP), Chairman of the Committee, Senator Olamilekan Adeola, All Progressives Congress, APC, Lagos West said that the move will put a stop to wastage in the system and the below the line expenditure.
According to Adeola when the Director-General, Nigeria Television Authority, NTA, Yakubu Ibn Mohammed appeared before the Committee, “All revenues accrued to revenue-generating agencies should go to the consolidated revenue fund henceforth. We will only approve for you, the cost of production. This will put a stop to wastage in the system and the below the line expenditure. This will shore up the revenue of the government. We are going to ask all revenue-generating agencies to start doing what FIRS is doing.
“That is to generate revenue, deduct cost of production and remit the rest to the consolidated revenue fund in line with the Fiscal Responsibility Act. There is no point in giving a target to the agencies. They will perform more if they know that the higher revenue they collect, the more money they get as operational cost. That is going to be a permanent solution.
“Before any agency could touch any revenue it generates, it must be appropriately declared but the documents that the NTA presents to us is not the true position of the revenue accruable to it. What is accrued to Startimes as revenue, less expenditure runs into several billions of naira?
“The revenue is not disclosed in this document. Irrespective of what you are using it for, the first thing to do is to declare it in this document. If you are silent on the revenue accrued to you from Startimes, then you are operating a below the line account which is not known to the government. We need to know when you entered the joint venture agreement with Startimes, how much has accrued to the NTA. Any expenditure not contained in the document before us that is only known to NTA, is a fraud. Before you came here we demanded documents containing detailed revenue and expenditure.
“We want to know how much you get on production every year, how much do you realize on other activities, documentaries, advertisement. For instance, the committee paid NTA N1.078m to advertise the ongoing public hearing and it was stated that NTA won’t take credit advert. The Federal Government still funds the NTA fully, it collects subventions and generate revenue.
“On the NTA debt profile, we want to see the names of the debtors, the date and amount involved, and the approving authorities must be stated in a tabular form. All the documents must be provided by the NTA DG by 11 am on Monday.”
Earlier on his part, NTA Director-General, Yakubu Ibn Mohammed while answering the question on what is owed the agency, said that he does not have the list of their debtors, but however promised to provide the details next week Monday.
The NTA Director-General said, “When the issue of commercialisation started in 1993, about five things were supposed to have been put in place but only one, which in my estimation was the least important was put in place. So, to that extent, I will say NTA is not partially commercialised.
“On debtors. I’m not prepared to make a commitment which I cannot substantiate. I know we are owed much money but right now, I don’t want to make any statement that might be proven wrong later. I have to go back, take a look at our books, ask those that are directly involved to furnish me with the useful information so that I can provide the committee with the accurate facts. I don’t also have the list of our debtors
“The free live coverage of the National Assembly plenary sessions is at a cost to the NTA but we are doing it because of the importance of the National Assembly as an arm of government. There are other things that we do for the National Assembly which are not being paid for. For instance, there are two programmes, that the National Assembly pays a private producer to produce and transmitted on the Network Service of the NTA. The arrangement before I came on board was for the National Assembly to pay the producer for the production and airtime. However, when I came on board as the Director-General, I discovered that for a year before I came on board, the private producer has not paid anything for airtime.
“On the revenue accruable to the NTA from its joint partnership agreement with Startimes, the DG said, “I will provide details on Monday.”