The 2019 national budget, which was predicated on a benchmark of $60 per barrel of oil with a total estimate of N8. 3 trillion as proposed expenditure will indeed not suffer from lack of funds to see through its implementation, showing clearly the increase in non-oil revenue fund in the previous year, 2018.
From official and available records, non-oil revenue generated by federal government agencies in 2018 stood at N7. 7 trillion, an amount considered the highest in the history of the country. The break down of non-oil revenue shows that Customs generated, N1. 1 trillion; Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), N5.3 trillion; and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), N1.3 trillion.
You may wonder why DPR is non-oil revenue. This is because its proceeds are from licencing and not the sale of crude or refined oil.
Similarly, formidable processes of compliance to procurement laws were invoked in the public service to ensure that revenue leakages, which in the past diminish refinances, are blocked.
This is an indication that the fear being expressed in some quarters by pessimists on how to fund the 2019 national budget can be attributed to lack of adequate knowledge of the increase in non-oil revenue within the last two years of this administration. This administration has taken deliberate steps through public service reforms to boost revenue generation in the country.
There are also Presidential initiatives engaged to curb corrupt and sharp practices by civil servants to save money for government. One of the most strategic blockades is the digitization of all accounting procedures in federal government agencies, which has translated to surplus remittances by agencies to the Single Treasury Account (TSA) against the wastages in the past.
The Head of Civil Service of the Federation Winifred Oyo-Ita was in specific terms directed upon inauguration by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 2016, to block all revenue leakages in the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) within the public service to boost revenue generation.
Earlier, the Presidency had ordered the monthly publication of revenues, generated by over 30 federal government agencies with the mandate to rake in cash through constitutional monetary policies set by the federal government.
Also the monthly peer review meetings with federal permanent secretaries organised and chaired by the Office of the Head of Civil Service, Winifred Oyo-Ita, provide administrative heads of federal government ministries opportunity to take a critical look at the performance of their ministries in all areas including revenue.
Apparently, the outcome of previous engagements between the permanent secretaries and the office of the head of civil service have improved the performance of staff and increased revenue through new innovative formulas that are considered more aggressive but with strict compliance to statutory functions as clearly stated by the provisions of the law.
Without doubt, Nigeria is on the path of growth through formidable platforms like the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which of course is the umbrella body to which government is determined to make recovery and explore new methods of increasing revenue.
The expressions of fear against budget implementation in 2019 can therefore be described as panic, when non-oil revenue for the year under review is anticipated to be above N10 trillion against N7. 7 trillion in the previous year, 2018. Nigerians must learn to work together and reason positively alike to eliminate the poverty in the country.
Government, through its reform programmes should engage more revenue experts from the private sector to drive the process of revenue collection, especially in the existing revenue points to create more revenue sources for increased financial in-flow in the system.
Though, success is being recorded, there is palpable fear over the slow funding of the 2017-2020 implementation strategy document of the public service reforms. There has to be deliberate efforts by government to fast track the process of funding the reforms, especially the digitization process which will eliminate revenue leakages and enhance competence and performance in the public service.
The document was however launched with the prospects to complete the entire process before the end of next year; the expectations are that the implementers should achieve about 60 per cent of its content before now, so as to give room for test run within a period of time, especially the digital aspects of the reforms.
Therefore, the administration cannot be said to have performed poorly economically, putting revenue accruing to the federation account from non-oil sectors into account in the last two years.
Nigeria as a state is known for delay in funding projects, it has not taken serious any reform in the past, and I see the present administration making similar errors of inadequate funding of the public service, the consequences of evading proper funding is to lose trust and integrity as a government.
Again, it’s time to realise that the conception of development agenda is usually easy, but the funding usually a hard nut to crack, therefore government against all odds should be more committed than ever before in ensuring the speedy completion of the reform process for a sustained revenue drive and growth.
– Eke, wrote in from Abuja
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