Nigeria: Rmafc Begins Exercise to Recover N10 Trillion From Govt Agencies

28 September 2020

The unremitted revenues are for the period between january 2016 and December 2019

The <a target="_blank" href="https://rmafc.gov.ng/">Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission</a> (RMAFC) on Monday said it is set to commence the drive to recover from all defaulters all unremitted revenues accruable to the Federation Account, including over N10 trillion operating surpluses.

The exercise, scheduled to commence from the first week of October, would involve all unremitted revenues by government ministries, departments and agencies to the appropriate government treasury for the period between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2019.

The RMAFC chairperson, Elias Mbam, disclosed this during an interactive session in Abuja organised by the commission for consultants engaged to carry out the recovery exercise.

Deployment of directors of revenue, treasury

Last week, the government <a target="_blank" href="https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/416409-nigerian-govt-deploys-directors-of-revenue-to-agencies-to-reverse-budget-deficit.html">deployed</a> directors of revenue and treasury to select federal government-owned agencies to enhance the government revenue drive.

At the inauguration of the directors, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, who lamented the consistent deficit in annual federal budgets as a result of the dwindling profile of government revenues from crude oil exports, said steps must be taken to reverse the trend.

At the event, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, expressed concern over observed poor remittances by a number of government agencies that have been remitting smaller operating surpluses to the Consolidated Revenue Fund than is required by law and/or financial regulations.

Mr Mustapha called for a reform initiative aimed at generating more revenue and associated remittances into the government treasury and to improve the operational performance of all government-owned enterprises and agencies.

Impact of dwindling revenue

With dwindling revenue profile of the federal government as a result of the growing impact of the global health cum economic crisis posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Mbam said President Muhammadu Buhari directed the RMAFC to go after those defaulting in remitting accruable revenues to the Federation Account.

Mr Mbam recalled that during the inauguration of the chair and members of the reconstituted board of the commission recently, the president charged them to use all legal ways and means to block all revenue leakages to the federation account.

The commission, which is mandated to mobilise and allocate revenues on behalf of the government, is also mandated to monitor all revenue accruals into the federation account as well as disbursements, while taking steps to block all leakages.

Collaboration with anti-graft agencies

Mr Mbam said the commission would carry out the recovery exercise in collaboration with the anti-graft agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).

He said the exercise would be preceded by a nationwide verification and reconciliation of accounts to ascertain details of revenue inflows and remittances from relevant organisations of the government for the period under review.

The RMAFC boss, who said the collaboration with the EFCC and ICPC was to help provide close monitoring of the recovered funds accruable to the federation account, warned the anti-graft agencies against joining issues with any defaulting organisation or agency.

Rather, he urged them to submit established reports against any organisation or agency to the commission through the coordinating committee on the project.

Hamza Abdulahi, who represented the acting chairperson of the EFCC, Mohammed Umar, said the agency had equally assisted the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to recover over N300 billion in a similar collaboration.

Mr Abdullahi promised not to compromise the EFCC's track record of ensuring that every revenue defaulter would be made to face the full wrath of the law.

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Earlier, the secretary to the RMAFC, M.B. Shehu reminded the participating agencies that the federal government takes the issue of revenue generation seriously, particularly with the dwindling oil revenue as a result of the decline in oil revenues at the international crude oil market and the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the country's economy.

Accumulated operating surplus

In 2018, the federal government and several of its own enterprises, including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), <a target="_blank" href="https://www.premiumtimesng.com/business/business-news/301820-cbn-pppra-other-nigerian-agencies-fail-to-remit-n10-trillion-surplus-official.html">owed about N10 trillion in unremitted operating surplus</a> as at the end of August that year.

The Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, disclosed this during a town hall meeting with Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of government-owned enterprises (GOEs) in Abuja.

Under the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007, all government agencies are expected to compulsorily remit their operating surpluses to the federation account annually.

Sections 21 and 22 of the Act, states that "(1) The Government corporations and agencies and government-owned companies listed in the Schedule to this Act (in this Act referred of as "the Corporations" shall, not later than six months from the commencement of this Act and every three financial years thereafter, and not later than the end of the second quarter of every year, cause to be prepared and submitted to the Minister their Schedule estimates of revenue and expenditure for the next three financial years.

"(2) Each of the bodies referred to in sub-section (1) of this section shall submit to the Minister not later than the end of August in each financial year: (a.) An annual budget derived from the estimates submitted in pursuance of subsection (1) of this section; and (b) Projected operating surplus which shall be prepared in line with acceptable accounting practices.

"(3) The Minister shall cause the estimates submitted in pursuance of subsection (2) of this section to be attached as part of the Appropriation Bill to be submitted to the National Assembly."

Section 22 (1) states, "Notwithstanding the provisions of any written law governing the corporation, each corporation shall establish a general reserve fund and shall allocate thereto at the end of each financial year, one-fifth of its operating surplus for the year.

(2) The balance of the operating surplus shall be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government not later than one month following the statutory deadline for publishing each corporation's accounts."

But, Mr Akabueze said despite investing over N40 trillion cumulatively in the various GOEs, the returns to the government coffers, in terms of dividends or surpluses at the end of each operating year, was less than one percent.

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