By Adedayo Akinwale
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has said the country needs to impose deep cuts in the cost of governance, improve internal revenue generation in order to build the infrastructure of opportunity that is required to lift Nigerians out of poverty.
The Speaker stated this Thursday at the commencement of Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) revenue considerations with revenue generating agencies organised by the House Committee on Finance.
He said the country is currently facing a fiscal crisis, compounded by the intense disruption that has been wrought on the nation’s economic performance and financial projections by Covid-19 pandemic.
He added that nations all over the world, including those rightly considered to be leading lights, are facing a moment of reckoning that is redefining the way government operates.
The Speaker said already, the National Assembly had to carry out severe cuts to the 2020 Appropriation Act, while at the same time borrowing more to fund urgent development needs and implement interventions to help the most vulnerable citizens get through these trying times with some dignity.
Gbajabiamila stated: “All of us in the House of Representatives recognise that the challenges we now face will not abate in the medium term. Yet, we are committed to using the appropriations process as a tool for accomplishing our nation’s most pressing development objectives.
“We have a responsibility to act with urgent determination to build the infrastructure of opportunity that is required to lift millions of our fellow citizens out of poverty.
“We recognise that we cannot accomplish these objectives using loans and outside financing alone. Therefore, we need to impose deep cuts in the cost of governance and improve internal revenue generation and collection so that we can free up resources that can then be deployed to fund policy initiatives that will enhance the lives of our people.”
The Speaker stressed that the revenue-generating agencies of the federal government have a vital role to play in this regard.
Gbajabiamila lamented that there has been a consistent failure to adhere to the revenue remittance agreements to which many of these agencies have committed.
According to him, “We have credible reports that these desperately needed funds have in many cases, been diverted to finance unnecessary trivialities. At the same time, the government is left scrambling for alternative sources to fund priority projects. We cannot afford this dynamic, and we will not tolerate it any more.”
Gbajabiamila noted that the legislature remains the keeper of the public purse, with broad constitutional authority to act on behalf of the Nigerian people, to ensure that the collective resources are efficiently administered in service of the public good.
He said that no one should be in doubt that the House would not hesitate to act on its constitutional authority notwithstanding whatever objections may arise.