Acting Chairman, Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), Victor Muruako, has noted that the review of the 2017 Fiscal Responsibility Act which created the commission is to undergo some levels of review as part of drive to deepen its operations across the country.
In an interview, he averred that the review will among other things afford the commission more operational funds, power to extract information on capital projects from Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs), who are often reluctant to avail the agency of such.
Business Hilights recalls that FRC is created to ensure prudent utlilisation of government’s resources and timely allocation to states according to laid down rule of engagements.
On verification processes, Muruako noted that “We have begun nationwide verification of capital projects belonging to various MDAs to ensure government’s funds are spent as budgeted. The commission frowns at the high number of abandoned projects because that is unhealthy for the nation’s economy”.
“We also advise the government on how to go about it. Some of the projects were abandoned because of delayed releases of funds. For instance, if a project is to start and end in four years, it may be captured in the first year and it takes off.
On the Act, he added that “We need information about MDAs’ projects, location and a guide to get there for monitoring. But since the MDAs know that our Act, as it is today, does not contain any sanction or punishment for refusing to oblige needed information, they ignore our requests. That is why we seek amendment of the Act. It will help us. It will give us more powers. It will allow more access to funds for better operation”.
He waqs however, quick to note that the amendment process did not start today, saying “it started with the 7th National Assembly but was not wrapped up before they wound down”.
Muruako also gave hints on the 2018 outlook, saying “The fiscal responsibility has been growing from stage to stage. When the Act was signed into law in 2007, the commission was set up. Before then, it was from ground zero in terms of remittances. By then, 31 agencies were under the schedule of the Act. The commission has been able to attract and ensure that these 31 agencies remitted funds to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).
“As at the last quarter of 2016, by virtue of the Response of Fiscal Responsibility Act, over N600 million has been remitted to the CRF by the various agencies. There has been a lot of improvement. From 31, the Minister of Finance, in the execution of powers conferred on her under the Fiscal Responsibility Act and the approval of the President, has approved addition of more 92 agencies, and we now have 122 agencies under this Act. That was done exactly November 26, 2016. Effectively, we have more agencies in our net and more will still come in. The only thing needed to be done is to strengthen the commission through funding and amendment of the act.