Nigeria: 2020-2022 MTEF/FSP - Senate Committee's Report May Not Be Ready By Wednesday

30 September 2019

Abuja — There are indications that the report of the joint committee set up by the Senate to look into the 2020-2022 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) may not be ready by Wednesday when the one-week deadline given to it expires.

The Senate had last Thursday mandated its committees on Finance and National Planning to study the MTEF/FSP documents sent to it last Tuesday by President Muhammadu Buhari and report their findings at plenary on Wednesday.

But THISDAY's investigations at the weekend, however, revealed that the two committees may not complete their assignments within the one-week deadline and may therefore ask for more time because of the volume of work before them

Sources within the committee revealed that the earliest time the joint committee's report will be ready is Thursday or at most next week Tuesday for it to be laid at the Senate plenary.

Already, the Senate committee on Finance has swung into action as it met weekend with its counterpart in the House of Representatives.

Chairman of Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Adeola Olamilekan, on Saturday met his counterpart in the House, Hon James Faleke, on how to approach the MTEF/FSP document and advice the two chambers of the National Assembly accordingly.

The meeting which lasted for over seven hours in the office of Senator Olamilekan, agreed to invite the Minister of Finance, Accountant General of the Federation, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and heads of parastatals like Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Fiscal Responsibility Commission, Revenue Mobil-isation Commi-ssion, Sovereign Wealth Fund and Nigeria Customs Service to defend the projected revenue in the document.

THISDAY further gathered that the invitation to the minister and heads of revenue generating agencies will get to them before close of work today and they will be expected to appear before the joint committee of the Senate and House on Wednesday.

The public officers would have been invited tomorrow save for the public holiday declared by the federal government to mark Nigeria's 59th independence anniversary.

A ranking Senator and member of the Senate Finance committee told THISDAY that it is after the Finance minister and others might have appeared before the joint committee on Wednesday that the Senate Committees on Finance and National Planning will now write its report.

According to him, "you can now see that the Wednesday deadline given the two committees is not realistic. The earliest time for the committee's report can be ready is Thursday but I can assure you that the report will be laid at plenary latest by next week Tuesday. So, we will definitely apply for extension of time for the committees to do a thorough job".

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Finance has hinted of plans to block revenue leakages in public finance as a way of consolidating funds for needed social and infrastructure development as well as reducing deficit in annual federal budget.

Speaking weekend at the inaugural meeting of the committee, its chairman, Senator Olamilekan said the frequent lamentation of "no fund, no fund" on needed capital projects in budget should be minimised if the committee does its proper oversight work on all revenues accruing to the government from all sources beyond crude oil.

He emphasised that the task ahead requires invitation of all revenue-generating agencies to know the trends in their revenue generating efforts for the government over the years as a way of charting new heights and correcting anomalies of leakages where present adding that there is a need to look into such revenue heads as the pre-shipment inspection and how it is applied among other revenue sources of government beyond crude oil and taxes.

Olamilekan said the nation's finances will improve significantly through blocking leakages and seeking new revenues sources adding that the senate committee will explore the possibility of an annual international Finance Lecture to be addressed by successful Ministers of Finance both at home and abroad and other financial experts on current trends as a way of addressing the challenges of finance in Nigeria.

"As the nation approaches its 59th Independence anniversary, we as a committee of the Senate are challenged to do the right thing to ensure that the government gets all its revenue for needed capital projects. We want to move away from the frequent complaints of "no fund, no fund". The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and many other government agencies generates huge sums of money but in most cases the funds are not applied according to the Constitution and the Fiscal Responsibility Act"

He stated that the first task of the committee in the Ninth Senate is to quickly work on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper(2020-2023) referred to it by the senate with a deadline preparatory to the presentation of the 2020 Appropriation Bill by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly.

Members of the 17 -man committee in their contribution commended the choice of Olamilekan as the chairman of the important committee of "baking the national cake" based on his cognate experience in similar positions in Lagos State House of Assembly for eight years and later as Chairman of the House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee with overview of all federal government agencies.

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