The Public Accounts Committee of the Senate has expressed commitment to an improved fiscal regime that will check wastages and corruption in the public sector of Nigeria.
This as the Committee expressed support for the swift passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (Amendment) Bill, 2007, in order to enthrone transparency and accountability in the country’s public finance management systems.
The Senate Committee made these commitments when it received in audience a group of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) under the auspices of the Growth Initiatives for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT) Nigeria Project led by OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative during a courtesy visit on Thursday in Abuja.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo South), while commending the GIFT Nigeria Project cluster members for the efforts at promoting sanity in the country’s public finance management systems, said passage of the FRA bill will go a long way to reverse the trend of poor revenue generation and opaque expenditure patterns.
The lawmaker said that it is unfortunate that Nigeria is not getting the right revenues into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), noting: “That is why we are talking about deficit. If the agencies of government charged with the responsibility of getting revenue were to actually get the due revenues into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, we would have no issue with deficit.
“If all the provisions in FRA, 2007 were respected and agencies that are supposed to get revenue are doing it, we would not have any problem. “Part of our functions is to ensure transparency, accountability in order to ensure value for money where agencies spend public funds. We do this through the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation.”
Speaking on the reason for the visit to the Senate PAC, leader of the delegation, Mr. MacDonald Ekemezie of the Centre for Transparency and Accountability (CTA), informed members of the committee of the work done so far done in the GIFT Nigeria Project, especially the baseline research on remittance of public revenues.
He stated that the GIFT Nigeria Project is committed to stridently pushing for the passage of the FRA Amendment Bill in the Senate and possibly the House of Representatives before the end of the 9th assembly.
He called on the National Assembly to speedily progress on the FRA bill which he noted has gone through public hearing but yet to be reported for consideration of plenary in the Senate.
He therefore sought collaboration with Senate Public Accounts Committee on the GIFT Project in achieving accountability and transparency in the country’s extractive industry especially the oil and gas sector.
The GIFT Nigeria Project is being implemented with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) Project.