Nigeria: Reps Consider Direct Debit of Utility Bills From MDAs' Budget

Abuja — The House of Representatives yesterday frowned at the inability of some ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government to remit utility bills as at when due.

To this end, the House mandated its committees on Appropriation, Finance, and Public Accounts to interface with the heads of the ministries, departments, and agencies to initiate a workable Strategic Plan to enhance the efficient payment of monthly utility bills of all ministries, departments, and agencies.

The member representing Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta/Oru-west federal constituency of Imo State, Hon Kingsley Uju, in a motion titled, "Establishment of a Direct Debit System for Payment of Utility Bills by Federal Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs)" noted that in order to ensure that utility bills are paid, the federal government introduced laudable measures where individuals and the private/ public sectors pay promptly by privatising some sectors of the economy, like the electricity sector.

He, however, expressed worry 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.

According to Uju, the 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.

"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."

According to Uju, payment of utility bills as revenue generation to the national economy cannot be overemphasised, though, he said this is often overlooked.

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