Culture of financial impunity gradually disappearing, says Fiscal Responsibility Commission boss

Culture of financial impunity gradually disappearing, says Fiscal Responsibility Commission boss
June 23 19:42 2023 Print This Article
Barr. Victor Muruako, the Chairman, Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), says the culture of financial impunity in the country is gradually disappearing.

Muruako made the remark while receiving the Nigerian Economics Students Association (NESA), University of Nigeria, Nsukka,  in a courtesy visit and study tour to the Commission on Friday in Abuja.
Muruako said the Commission which was set up by the Fiscal Responsibility Act No. 31 of 2007 and started operation in 2009, had recorded giant strides since its inception.
“We have indeed made some landmark achievements from when we first began as a Commission to where we are today.
“First and foremost, the culture of impunity is definitely disappearing. Although corruption cannot just evaporate like that, but you can see today that, unlike before, people are now being held accountable for whatever they do.
“If you think you have gotten away with any wrongdoing, you might be surprised, what you have done will just appear on the social media and definitely one way or the other you must answer for it.
“So, I can tell you that from that perspective, people are more responsible,” he said.
He noted that in terms of budget implementation, the situation is far better than what used to obtain before now.
“In the past, Mr President would just release his budget speech few days to the end of the year and that is it.
“But now, with the Act and the Commission as well as our engagements with relevant stakeholders, including Ministry of Finance, the Budget Office and the National Assembly, we now have series of activities that carefully culminate in the federal appropriations act.
“Examples include the engagements with Civil Society Groups, the alignment with the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, the public hearings that are carried out, and alot of other processes.
“All these are definite steps towards planning in such a way that the budget is no more the way that it used to be. So, there are lots of gains in that area.
“There must be careful planning because if you fail to plan, then you have already planned to fail,” he said.
The FRC boss said that the Commission had also made alot of giant strides in the aspect of revenue generation.
He explained that the ability of the Commission  to come up with the template for the calculation of operating surplus which was quite acceptable, had really yielded alot of revenue.
“Earnings to the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government have greatly increased. I can tell you that year upon year, we have continued to improve in that area.
“We have been working in collaboration with other stakeholders, particularly the National Assembly, the Office of the Budget Office of the Federation, Ministry of Finance and Accountant General of the Federation.
“So, you check the quantum of remitances. For the first time ever, in 2021, the Independent Revenue of the Federal Government  hit the trillion Naira mark.
“This can obviously be traced to a lot of activities by the Commission – and we are still counting.
“Also, our project verification exercise, which is based on the Budget Implementation Report (BIR) which we receive from the Budget office of the Federation is used to verify some of these projects and, in the process, we find our reports have greatly improved with regards to some of the Federal Government projects.
“On, the issue of public debts, which is part of the challenge we face in the country, we have tried a lot in improving, through our monitoring  exercises at the subnational level.
“I can assure you that today, it won’t be easy for any government just to walk in and obtain loan just like before, without any checks and balances because the Fiscal Responsibility Act clearly outlines the conditions you must fulfil before you can borrow and on what terms and for what.
“Yes, it is not yet uhuru and we still have some challenges along that line, but definitely, it is a work in progress,” he said.
Speaking on the study tour of the Commission by  UNN Economic Students, Barr Muruako remarked that there is a need to continue to embark on youth sensitization so as to help in instilling the culture of fiscal discipline in the lives of the leaders of tomorrow.
He noted that the Commission had been embarking on sensitization programmes for quite sometime.
“This is because one of the problems we identified with issues of instilling fiscal discipline in public officials is that it is very difficult to change adults, as bad habits die hard.
“So, at the Commission, one of our key strategies is to reach out to the “leaders of tomorrow”; the public-officials-to-be.
“We want to catch them young while they are still at that early stage and we started this by setting up what we call ‘Army of Fiscal Responsibility Enthusiasts’, ” he said.
He added that the Commission had an understanding with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to transverse all the orientation camps across the country and carry out enlightenment and sensitization programmes.
“We engage the Corp members and distribute our flyers and literatures so as to make them understand what we are doing.
“We also explain to them on the need for them to buy into it because fighting corruption is not as simple as it may look. It is something that you have to deliberately plan for.
“So, we continue these youth programmes in such a way that we have to reach out even to some educational institutions.
“The essence is to put the students through with what we are doing here and explain to them in detail what it means to be fiscally responsible.
“These students you are seeing today will obviously be in positions of responsibility tomorrow. They will be involved in the managing of public finance in the country, either in the private or public sector.
“What they will  learn will also help them even in personal finance management.
“So, fiscal responsibility is not only about engaging already established institutions, you can catch them young,” he said.
He said that the Commission was even looking at the possibility of including their programmes as part of the curriculum in the nation’s educational institutions.
“In this regard, we have had engagements with the Executive Secretaries of both the National Universities Commission (NUC), NBTE and National Commission for Colleges of Education.
“We want to further have engagements with Vice Chancellors, Registrars, administrators and other stakeholders in such a way that they will adopt Fiscal Responsibility as a course in our institutions of higher learning.
“These need to form some of students’ course content because it is not easy to imbibe these culture at the latter stages of their lives.
“We have alot of other programmes lined up and we believe that this is the right way to go, so that when these youths would have matured into adulthood tomorrow and are in public offices, that culture will not be new to them,” he said.
Godspromise Ngadi, the President of
NESA, University of Nigeria, Nsukka acknowledged that the association was indeed privileged to have been impacted with so much knowledge about the activities of the commission during the visit.
He expressed gratitude to the Commission for initiating them as Fiscal Responsibility disciples, adding that they would be worthy agents of fiscal accountability and integrity.
“We have come to understand that one of the primary responsibilities of the FRC is to harness the country’s resources, promote efficiency as well as dynamism and economic development.
“We’ve also been charged as Fiscal Responsibility Enthusiasts to be disciples of fiscal accountability.
“We will cascade this message to our various institutions, homes and the society.
“Today, we have been initiated as fiscal responsibility apostles and we believe that our impact will be felt in the country,” he said.
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