Revenue: Senate Probes Customs, FIRS

The Senate on Tuesday, constituted an adhoc committee to investigate Nigerian Customs Service, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and other revenue generating agencies of government over alleged non-remittance of billions in revenue.

This followed a motion tagged “”Urgent Need to Investigate Revenue Generation agencies for Non Remittance of Generated Revenue” and sponsored by Sen. Solomon Adeola.

The Committee which will be chaired by the sponsor of the motion Sen. Adeola is to report back to the senate in six weeks.

Recall that two weeks ago, the Federal Government had accused revenue generating agencies of siphoning money that should go to the federation account.

Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun in October, also accused revenue generating agencies of diverting revenues generated meant for of the Government.

While Adeola is to chair the committee, other members included Sen. John Enoh, Sen. Andy Uba, Sen. Yousuf Yusuf, Sen. Raji Rasaki and Sen. Yahaya Abdulahi.

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, while setting up the committee, frowned at the practice. He said revenue agencies generated over N1.5 trillion in 2015, but could only deliver less than N500 in 2016.

“As I keep on hammering, independent revenue and non-oil revenue are very important areas of our budget. This independent revenue is 37 per cent.

“You remember that last year it was almost N1.5 trillion and am being told now that this year is likely to come down to 500 billion because they could not meet the target.

“The inability to meet the target is not that they do not have the capacity to meet the target.

The problem is that there is too much abuse on this operating surpluses where people spend up to the last naira in all.

I think the best way forward is for us to address this issue in blocking these leakages and I believe that in constituting the adhoc committee, we would just take the best hands and still bring people from Finance and Public Accounts Committees.”

Earlier in his remark, Sen. Adeola, said all revenues and monies raised or received are expected to be paid into the consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.

He revealed that the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007 was enacted to ensure transparency, accountability and to prevent corrupt practices in relation to public revenues and expenditure.

He expressed worry that government owned companies have over the years grossly violated the letters of the 1999 Constitution and the Fiscal Responsibility Act in relation to their revenue generation activities and expenditures.

“The various audit queries against these agencies over the years further indicates possible mismanagement of public funds against the spirit of the Constitution and Fiscal Responsibility Act.

“In view of Federal Government’s dwindling revenues from the traditional crude oil sector and the on-going recession, these government bodies are continuing in short-changing government of needed revenue through various illegal practices,” Senator Adeola noted.

In his contribution, Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, said there was need to review the existing laws setting up the agencies.

He said if the revenues generated are carefully monitored, there may not be need to borrow money to fund the budget.

“We have a lot of leakages. I think it is time for us to look back and look at those laws. We need to look at those laws and review them.

“We are talking about borrowing money to fund the budget, whereas, monies generated are going into private pockets,” he said.

Ahmad Lawan on his part, said: “Some of these agencies have their Acts supported by law. We have to amend these laws.

“Another thing we can do is to intensify our oversight. We need to know how these agencies utilize the funds. Many of these agencies are just there.

“We should be looking at reducing these agencies so that those that will be left to collect revenues will be thoroughly supervised.” he said.