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23 Jul 2017

FG recovers N460bn operating surplus from MDAs

The Federal Government has recovered over N460bn operating surplus from its Ministries, Departments and Agencies between 2010 and June 2017.
The amount, recovered through the Fiscal Responsibility Commission has, been remitted into the Consolidated Revenue Fund account.

The Acting Chairman, FRC, Mr. Victor Muruako, who gave the figure in Abuja, said the country had recorded remarkable achievements in fiscal responsibility but there was room to do more.

He said the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which was enacted in 2007 to promote prudent management of the nation’s resources, had helped to reform the budgetary process through the introduction of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework.

He said the new standardised template designed by it for remitting operating surplus would also go a long way in generating more funds into the CRF.

Muruako, however, said for the commission to be more effective, the amendments of its Act before the National Assembly was imperative.

This, he added, would enable the commission to sanction agencies of government that violated the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

He said, “This will effectively complement our approach of naming and shaming (chronic debtors) and reporting to the attorney-general for prosecution.’’

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, had said the Federal Government could not afford the non-remittance of revenue into the treasury.

She said while the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 was designed to provide guidelines to elicit greater accountability and transparency in fiscal operations, actual compliance by revenue generating agencies had been poor.

This, according to her, has resulted in revenue leakages as confirmed by an audit, which revealed the under-remittance of N450bn into the treasury.

The minister gave the infractions committed by some of the agencies as non-remittance and under-remittance of operating surpluses due to the Consolidated Revenue Fund; operating without an approved budget; overstating of budget and spending above budgeted amount; and under-reporting of revenue.

The minister said based on audit report, some payments were made without invoices and payment receipts; while loans and grants were given to parent ministries without prior approval.

There were also findings that the agencies had poor bookkeeping; as well as failure to reconcile accounts and existence of irreconcilable differences.

Some of these agencies, according to Adeosun, lack fixed asset registers and inadequate internal audit process with weak internal controls.

There were also the issue of failure to submit audited financial statements; payroll fraud and exaggeration of payroll costs; overpayment of staff salaries and abuse of personnel grants; unapproved monetisation of medical and other allowances.

Commenting on the development, Muruako said the template would help the government stop the level of abuse of the Fiscal Responsibility Act by government agencies.

He explained that most of the agencies of government preferred not to obey the law and as such, were using all forms of accounting techniques to short-change the government.

For instance, he lamented that some of the chief executive officers of the agencies, in their bid to avoid remittance, went as far as submitting two financial statements of their agencies to the government.

He claimed that while one account was usually submitted to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, another version would be submitted to the FRC.

He said, “Over the last five years, the issue of leakages in revenue generation and remittance in Nigeria has assumed a rather high dimension calling for the attention of all relevant agencies of government in finding a workable solution to stem the ugly trend.

“This (new accounting template) will help us check the level of abuse of the FRA because we have discovered that many agencies are not complying with the law.

“We’ve also discovered that some MDAs produce two accounting statements, one for the accountant general and the other for the FRC.

“So we are partnering the AGF and the ministry of finance to ensure that only one set of account is produced and this will help us block loopholes in remittance.”

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