Last week, a Nigerian Senate Committee on Finance made a shocking revelation —about sixty Government-owned-Enterprises and Agencies have repeatedly failed to remit a whooping N3 trillion over the past six years. This is the same time-frame that President Muhammadu Buhari has been in power.
Recall that in 2015, the Government informed Nigerians that it had effectively implemented the adoption of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) in line with the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act. But in light of this revelation, one then wonders: why is N3 trillion unaccounted despite the TSA, and why is that happening at a time when the federation account is in dire need of cash?
Here’s What we Know
Senator Solomon Adeola, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, told journalists last week that discovery of the unremitted revenue was made during an investigation into remittances by Government MDAs. He also disclosed that it is very likely the money may have already been spent on frivolous expenditures.
Now, let’s tell you why this is very problematic. Nigeria is currently experiencing a major revenue crisis, as it struggles to generate enough income that can finance its national budget. The Government has also resorted to borrowing a lot from both local and international lenders, thereby bringing the country’s total debt profile to as much as N34 trillion, according to information gleaned from the Debt Management Office.
Back to the Question: Why?
Why have these MDAs been withholding government money in their coffers instead of remitting to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF)? It’s important to bear in mind that if these funds were to have been remitted as at when due, perhaps the government would not have had cause to borrow so much money. This is exactly the same point Senator Solomon Adeola argued last week.
“From submissions already made and calculations from the Fiscal Responsibility Commission, about 60 Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs) may have about N3trillion of government revenue still unremitted in their coffers or already spent on frivolous things contrary to the constitution and FRA, 2007.
“If these revenues are paid to the CRF for proper appropriation by the parliament during budget considerations, we would have been using them to reduce dramatically the size of our deficit and hopefully minimize our borrowing,” the Committee Chairman had said.
President Muhammadu Buhari based his electioneering manifestoes on the promise to eradicate corruption from public service. The adoption of the Treasury Single Account was supposed to help in this regard by engendering transparency and accountability. For the past six years, most Nigerians believed this has been the case. However, this revelation shows that all that talk about fighting corruption might as well have been just that —talks. And that’s very, very unfortunate.