It is now getting clearer that the economic and financial crisis the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic has ignited in Nigeria will not abate within the 2021-2023 medium-term period.
The country, according to Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, is currently facing a fiscal crisis, compounded by the intense disruption of economic performance and financial projections by the pandemic.
As a result, the Legislative arm of the Federal Government is coming down heavily on all federal revenue generating agencies. They can no longer remit collected revenue whenever they like.
Affected by the development are: Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
Others include Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), among others.
While warning government’s revenue generating agencies against under remittance of collected revenue on Thursday, Gbajabiamila adds, ‘’we have had to carry out severe cuts to the 2020 Appropriation Act, while at the same time borrowing more, to fund urgent development needs.’’
He said that the parliament will no longer tolerate under remittance of funds by the agencies. Gbajabimila issued the warning at the commencement of a five-day interactive session on the 2021-2023 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) in Abuja.
At the interactive session organised by the House Committee on Finance, chaired by James Faleke (APC-Lagos), Gbajabiamila said the government has a responsibility to act with urgent determination to build the infrastructure of opportunity that will lift millions of 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 revenue-generating agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria have a vital role to play in this regard. There has thus far been a consistent failure to adhere to the revenue remittance agreements, to which many of these agencies have committed.
‘’We have credible reports that these agencies 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’’, he says.
While adding, ‘’we cannot afford this dynamic and we will not tolerate it anymore’’, Gbajabimila notes that the legislature remains the keeper of the public purse, with broad constitutional authority to act on behalf of the Nigerian people.
According to him, the House will ensure that the collective resources of the nation are efficiently administered in service of the public good, pointing out that although Nigeria was in technical recession during the year 2016, concerted efforts and strong economic policies by government exited the country out of recession within a short period.
“Going forward and in line with the constitutional powers, the National Assembly will continue to engage MDAs and Revenue Generating Agencies (RGAs) to generate more money to fund the national budget”, he said.
Earlier, Faleke said that the discussions at the interactive session would revolve across different strata of revenue administration in Nigeria. He said that the essence was to chart a new course to generate enough revenue to fund the 2021-2023 budgets.
In the meantime, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) are streamlining the processes involved in the listing on other countries’ stock market for more efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
A statement in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, says the approval process between the two organisations are being streamlined.
It said that the streamlined process which would come into effect on June 1, was aimed at reducing the regulatory burden on issuers by eliminating duplication of processes between them.
“With the streamlined processes, the SEC and the NSE will carry out joint site visits of companies intending to get listed, following the registration of their securities with the SEC.
“In the same vein, certain offer documents such as the Vending Agreement, Underwriting Agreement, Trust Deed and ISPO, identified to be strictly within the jurisdiction of the SEC are to be submitted only to the SEC.
“Also, the exchange will rely on SEC for approval of offer documents such as prospectus,” it said.
SEC Acting Executive Commissioner Operations, Isiyaku Bala Tilde, was quoted by the statement as saying that streamlining the process was a major milestone.
“Streamlining the issuance process with the listing process of the NSE is a major milestone for the Commission in its quest to create an enabling environment capable of attracting New Listings.
“One of our core values is leading by example, and we hope that other stakeholders will also look inward to explore similar initiatives which will ensure quick time to market of securities in our market.
“We have no doubt that the streamlined process will enhance the competitiveness of the Nigerian capital market as a global investment destination,” tilde said.
NSE Executive Director, Regulation, Ms Tinuade Awe, commended SEC for streamlining the listing process.
“I commend the SEC for working with us in streamlining the listing process for securities on the exchange. The NSE is much obliged for the SEC’s demonstration of a worthy example of effective collaboration all through this process in the interest of the market.
“As an agile exchange, we are determined to make it easier for issuers to list their securities in our market in an efficient, timely and cost-effective manner.
“The NSE began its collaboration with the SEC by identifying areas of duplication and overlap between the two organisations, paving way for a better experience for issuers.
“We believe this will potentially attract more issuers to list their companies and other securities on the NSE,” awe said.