…mandate standing C’mtes to draw up a debit plan
By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
Following alleged evasion of payment of utility bills such as water and electricity by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs of government, House of Representatives, Tuesday, called for direct deductions from their respective accounts.
The deductions are to be made by the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.
To this end, the House mandated its Committees on Appropriation, Finance and Public Accounts to interface with the heads of the MDAs and initiate a workable strategic plan to enhance the efficient payment of the bills on monthly basis.
According to the House, the plan would encourage payment of bills by the MDAs and in turn bring more money into the coffers of the government for infrastructural development.
Motion for the resolution was considered at the plenary.
Titled “Establishment of a Direct Debit System for Payment of Utility Bills by Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), it was moved by Hon. Uju Kingsley Chima from Imo State.
Moving the motion, Chima noted that Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) was a major factor in the economic growth of every country and should at least represent 50% of the Gross National Income, GNI, of an economy of a country to be stable.
He also noted that Section 80(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) provided that MDAs should pay their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) into the Consolidated Revenue of the Federation.
Alluding that Nigeria relied on about 90% of Externally Generated Revenue (EGR), through Crude Oil, as the source of the nation’s gross national income, Chima said that the Federal Government also relied on “payment of utility bills, like Water and Electricity Bills as a major boost to its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR)”
The lawmaker was however worried “that the MDAs are often accused of not paying Utility Bills to the bodies responsible for the collection, thereby making it impossible to remit the funds to the government and this has adverse effects on Internally Generated Revenue”.
He, therefore, called for urgent need to establish and devise workable means of ensuring that MDAs pay their utility bills to the government through direct debit mechanism of debiting the accounts of all MDA’s at the end of each month, in conjunction with the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
He said: “This motion seeks to expose the fact that almost all government MDAs, hide under the umbrella of being part of the government to refuse to pay their utility bills, as at when due, to the utility providers.
“For instance, investigations have revealed that these MDAs find it very difficult to pay their electricity and water bills; and when they do, they would pay in peanuts after years or months of accumulation.
“We all know that government in its annual budgets accommodate these utility bills and fund them adequately. Most MDAs even go as far as defending the payments of these utility bills during their budget defences; when they, in fact, actually owe the utility bills to the providers.
“The motion, therefore, calls for a proper and the most convenient means of ensuring that these MDAs pay their bills without owing the providers.
“Making the collection of the bills easy for the utility providers will, in turn, make it easy for the providers to play their own role of paying to government its fees and charges, thereby boosting our internally generated revenue
“The aim of this motion is to assist the utility providers to access a direct debit means of collecting the utility bills directly from sources of government funding, which the office of the Accountant Generation of the Federation will be most competent to achieve.”
Adopting the motion, the House gave the committees 8 weeks within which to conclude its assignment and report back for further legislative action.