Some senators on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have called for strict monitoring of generated revenue in the country among other demands.
They made the demands during plenary on Thursday in their various contributions on the debate on the 2020 Budget estimates in the Senate chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.
The lawmakers, however, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for adhering strictly to the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act by ensuring the timely submission of the 2020 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly.
They believe the early submission of the appropriation bill will facilitate its quick passage by the legislative, as well as return Nigeria’s budget cycle to the January-December timeline as provided by Constitution.
In his remarks, Senator Ayo Akinyelure (PDP, Ondo Central) bemoaned the high level of unaccountability by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government charged with the responsibility of revenue generation.
According to him, revenues accruable to agencies such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) if accounted for, are sufficient to fund the nation’s annual budget.
“Not much emphasis is made in the revenue of the government. The revenue of NNPC if accounted for can fund the national budget,” the lawmaker said.
He added, “The internal revenue of the immigration is not accounted for. They are made away with by contractors.
“When we talk about an increase in VAT, the Federal Inland Revenue must double its efforts when it comes to remittance of revenues.”
Senator Akinyelure was confident that if revenues accruable to government were properly allocated to several projects, the same would go a long way in bringing about the much-desired development expected by Nigerians.
Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo South), on his part, commended President Buhari for his determination to reverse the poor annual budgetary practice that characterised late submission of the appropriation bill to the National Assembly.
“What President Buhari did this year, is a complete deviation from what we have been seeing in terms of procedure in the presentation of our annual budget estimates to the National Assembly,” the lawmaker was quoted as saying in a statement from the Office of the Senate President.
He added, “For the first time, the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) were strictly adhered to. Last year, we had the budget presented to the National Assembly before the MTEF/FSP came.
“We know the Act states very clearly that MTEF/FSP must come first, and the National Assembly must pass it before the budget estimates come.
“This is the first time we are adhering strictly to this procedure. It is commendable on the path of President Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly.”
Senator Urhoghide, however, asked the Federal Government to ensure that capital expenditure in the 2020 Budget benefits Nigerians.
According to him, the provisions of the FRA as regards the budgetary execution and meeting of targets must be adhered to.
The lawmaker believes it is the responsibility of the Minister of Finance to meet with the joint Committees of Finance in the Senate and House of Representatives, to ensure a quarterly briefing of releases and distribution of funds.
He noted that the absence of this was responsible for the mistakes in the execution of the budget.
Another member, Senator Bassey Akpan (PDP, Akwa-Ibom North-East), lauded the President for throwing his weight behind the amendment of the Deep Offshore Inland Revenue Act.
He was delighted that Nigeria stands to benefit “an additional N400 billion for this year” with an amendment to the Act.
But Senator Akpan stressed that the Committees on Appropriation and Finance of the National Assembly have a task to balance the submission of the President.
“What we do as a National Assembly must reflect the equitable distribution of available resources to the good of all Nigerians,” he said.
In his contribution, Senator Clifford Ordia (PDP, Edo Central), described the budget proposal as “apt at this point in time in the history of our national development”
The lawmaker was optimistic that when fully implemented, the budget would go a long way in removing the youths from the streets.
He said, “The infrastructural development of this country needs to be handled holistically with timelines. This is the only way we can be able to attract investors to this country.”
Senator Ordia commended President Buhari for providing N296 billion sinking fund for payment of local contractors but urged the Federal Government to ensure that those owed over a period of time were duly paid.
On the manufacturing sector, he said, “It is supposed to be one of the major sectors contributing to our GDP. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
“Presently, the manufacturing sector and, in fact, the private sector only contributes about nine per cent to our GDP. This will not create the right environment that would create jobs for our young school leavers.”
The Senate has adjourned debate on the 2020 budget estimates until Tuesday next week.