The outgoing chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) Mr. Elias Mbam on Monday disclosed that the allowances of political office holders, particularly ministers, will be slashed as part of the government’s effort to reduce the cost of governance.
He also revealed that the commission has recovered N721 billion and remitted same to the Federation Account through the checks carried out on revenue generating agencies of government as well as the reconciliation of accounts with commercial banks used as collecting agencies.
He said a larger part of the recoveries came from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), adding that another N12.6 billion was established as liabilities while over N1.8 billion was recovered and remitted to the Federation Account following the monitoring, reconciliation and remittances exercise carried out on the collecting banks engaged by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).
The RMAFC boss also revealed that N15 billion was recovered from the reconciliation of tax liabilities of states and local government councils across the country.
Giving an account of his stewardship at a media briefing in Abuja, Mbam whose five-year tenure as the agency’s chairman formally drew to a close yesterday, said the commission has concluded the review of the remuneration package for public office holders as well as the new revenue sharing formula for the three tiers of government, adding that the relevant documents were currently awaiting further action by the presidency, National Assembly and the Ministry of Justice.
Although he declined to disclose highlights of the two major reviews, he hinted that entitlements, not salaries, of public officers, particularly the ministers, would be slashed in the revised package.
He said the commission has also identified other government agencies which were supposed to remit their revenue to the Federation Account but had failed to comply.
According to him, the defaulting agencies include the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), among others.
He also said billions of revenues from stamp duties for electronic transfer were not being remitted to the Federation Account, but assured his audience that the process of correcting the anomalies had reached an advanced stage.
He said: “On the remuneration package, actually I said we’ve completed what is being done and drafted the bill which is simply to make an input to the Attorney General of Federation. The document and the bill will be jointly presented to President Buhari.
“Certainly, the bill would go to the Ministry of Justice for conclusion and thereafter hopefully be presented to the National Assembly for further legislative action.”
He noted that the review will reflect the current realities “but one obvious thing is that we looked critically at their allowances, and some of the allowances we felt needed to be expunged, were expunged and even some were reviewed downwards”.
The outgoing RMAFC boss added: “However, we did not review the basic salaries because they have never been the issue. I was amused when I read in the national dailies that the presidency had slashed the salaries of public servants; that is for the ministers.
“That is not true, what was presented was actually their entitlements which is even still going to be reviewed. Generally, we looked critically at the realities and the final report reflected those realities.”
According to him, the review of the 2008 remuneration package has been completed while the accompanying draft bill on the revenue formula was being finalised before formal presentation to President Muhammadu Buhari for further necessary action.
Commenting further on the agencies which had not been remitting funds to the Federation Account, he said: “These agencies I mentioned are supposed to generate money for the federation because they use the federation’s assets to generate money in the processes.
“Take for instance the NPA, they are using a body of water. The body of water is not for the federal government, it’s a national asset and so the money they generate should be for the nation – for the three tiers of government.
“The same thing with NCC, the spectrum they give licences using the air belongs to the nation. So those agencies that generate money using our national assets should belong to the federation. But unfortunately some of the agencies have their Acts empowering them to generate and use the money, which is what we say should be repealed. These monies should be generated and paid into the Federation Account.”
Continuing, he said the relevant Acts that empowers such MDAs to generate and use the revenue, then only remit the operational surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the federal government instead of the Federation Account is wrong.
“It is wrong because they are supposed to comply with the relevant sections of the constitution which says all revenue should be paid into the Federation Account,” Mbam explained.
He reiterated the commission’s commitment to actualising its constitutional mandate particularly in the areas of reducing the cost of governance, diversification of the economy and ensuring probity and sound fiscal governance.
As a result, he noted that the commission collaborated with the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals to ensure that the solid minerals sector contributes to the Federation Account, adding that the sector contributed N11.3 billon to the federation’s treasury as at July 2015.