The Senate committee on Finance has recommended the liquidation of state-run oil firm, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) over huge funds unaccounted for.
A member of the committee, Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf, lamented financial leakages being perpetrated by revenue generating agencies as part of the reason why budgets are not properly funded.
The lawmaker who spoke at the budget defence of the Ministry of Finance wondered if NNPC had been cooperating with relevant agencies in disclosing its financial dealings.
He said there was no doubt that NNPC has become a drainpipe doing what it chooses without respect to any authority.
Yusuf said, “We are talking about leakages. Is the NNPC cooperating? Why can’t we liquidate NNPC? It is better we liquidate NNPC because it is no longer relevant. They do not respect anybody; they do not respect us. NNPC has become a drain pipe that should be liquidated.”
In his contribution, Senator Usman Bayero Nafada (Gombe North) said the findings of the investigation of revenue generating agencies should bother the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun.
He noted that the failure to fund annual budgets should be traced to massive financial leakages in agencies.
Loss of huge revenue, he said, should be a source of concern to the minister.
Mrs. Adeosun told the committee that scrutinisation of the budget of agencies which was not the case in the past has started.
She said unnecessary budgetary line items are being removed.
The minister admitted that “there is still a lot of latitude in the agencies that should return money to government.”
Senator Yahaya Abdullahi asked Mrs Adeosun why the implementation of the 2017 budget would be truncated “simply because you want to normalise the budget year.”
Abdullahi said observations had shown that the 2018 budget proposal has no bearing with the 2017 Budget as passed by the National Assembly.
“What is the whole idea that the budget must begin from January. The entire template you used for budgeting has no bearing whatsoever with reality. It was the template used during the military era. We do the same thing every year and expect a different result. It does not work like that,” Abdullahi said.
Chairman of the committee, Senator John Owan Enoh wanted Mrs Adeosun to explain why the budget performance of her ministry rose to 64 per cent when the trend observed is low budget performance.
Senator Joshua Dariye asked the minister to tell Nigerians the budget system the country is operating.
Dariye wanted to know whether the country is operating envelop system of budgeting or zero based budgeting.
Dariye said, “If your budget performance is 64 per cent and in other MDA it is 15 per cent, then the economy is not balanced. You need to reconcile this.”
Adeosun said she has noted the general comments on the budget and would get the economic team to consider and reconcile the observations.
The minister insisted that N750 billion has been released to fund capital project of the budget.
On the type of budget system the country is operation, Adeosun said the Ministry of Budget and National Planning is no longer in the Ministry of Finance, adding that the Minister of Budget and National Planning will be in a better position to answer the question.
Members of the committee said from the comments of the minister, it appeared that the zero budgeting system is still in operation.
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