RMAFC BILL: Coalition Calls for President Tinubu’s Assent, Says RMAFC Deserves Better Funding
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) on behalf of the Civil Society Coalition Against Corruption yesterday in Lagos called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to graciously give assent to the Bill for an act to amend the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act, CAP. R7 LFN 2010 to grant the commission enforcement powers in the monitoring of accruals to and disbursement of revenue from the Federation Account and bring the Act in conformity with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended); and for other matters related therewith.
The Coalition which made the appeal in a statement issued to media houses in Lagos, and signed by Comrade Debo Adeniran the Chairman of CACOL, recalled that the 9th Assembly at the twilight of the last administration had graciously and expeditiously passed the Bill that will give the beleaguered Commission a new lease of life which is awaiting President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s assent.
According to the statement, the Bill as passed by the National Assembly prescribes that the Commission shall be wholly funded by the three tiers of government being beneficiaries of the Federation Account.
The Statement laments that as one of the fourteen (14) Executive Bodies recognized by the Constitution, RMAFC is one of the most poorly funded Agencies compared to other sister Constitutional bodies like Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), National Population Commission, National Assembly and others that are heavily funded from the national purse.
The Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) is one of the Executive bodies established by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended). Amongst its fundamental powers and functions are;
- To monitor the accruals of federally-generated revenues to the Federation Account and disburse same to the three tiers of government;
- Review from time to time, the Revenue Allocation formulae and principles in operation to ensure conformity with changing realities,
- Determine remuneration packages appropriate for political, public and judicial office holders as well as
- Advise governments at all levels on ways to improve their internally-generated revenues.
They opined that, the important role the Commission plays in the nation’s political economy through statutory allocation of revenue via an equitable revenue sharing formula to the three tiers of government and fixing remuneration for public, political and judicial office holders at all levels of government has enormously contributed to the democratization process, thus encouraging good governance, transparency and accountability and even development in the country.
The Chairman of the Coalition Debo Adeniran noted that “the review process of the above exercises involves extensive and in-depth research and studies in various areas of our political economy, call for memoranda, consultations, sensitization workshops, collection and collation of data, studies of other similar Federations in respect of fiscal arrangements, public hearings and administration of questionnaires which involves huge expenditure”
“These exercises normally take the Commission to all the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT, as well as the 774 Local Council across the country to sensitize Nigerians to make input into the review process”.
“In the area of reducing revenue leakages and enhancing revenue generation, the Commission, has succeeded in expanding the sources of revenue to the Federation Account through the recoveries of hundreds of billions in the recent past”.
“It is gratifying to note that in order to ensure synergy in revenue generation, remittance and monitoring, the Commission also continues to engage critical stakeholders like the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, the Customs Service, Federal Inland Revenue Service, NNPC and its subsidiaries and the Central Bank of Nigeria to strategize on how to reduce revenue loss through indiscriminate granting of waivers and tax holidays”.
The coalition explained in the Statement that one of the major challenges faced by the Commission is the absence of financial autonomy and weak regulatory framework which directly hinders the effective and efficient performance of its operations with annual budgetary allocations for the financing of its activities over the years being grossly inadequate as to protect its independence and cater for its nationwide field operations. The sensitive nature of the Commission’s role in Nigeria’s Fiscal management requires a large measure of independence including financial autonomy.
The Coalition also noted with dismay that, while the Commission continues to discharge its constitutional responsibilities assiduously with little resources, workers and their chief executives in the various revenue generating Agencies it supervises, luxuriate in humungous salaries and allowances driving state-of-the-art cars as official vehicles, working in spacious and well-equipped offices and attending conferences, seminars and retreat abroad all at the tax payers expenses.
“In all honesty, how do you expect RMAFC to effectively monitor those Agencies without being ridiculed given the impoverished working conditions of their staff, how can the Commission attract top rate graduates and experienced hands like those in the MDAs they are supposed to oversight, how can they deploy top-notch ICT infrastructure like those obtained in FIRS, Customs, and NNPCL?”
“It is maladroit to expect a poorly funded organization with ill-motivated staff to perform supervisory functions on well-funded agencies whose staff are adequately remunerated and highly motivated”.
The Statement stressed that in view of the overriding importance of RMAFC’s role in stabilizing the nation’s political and socio-economic development since inception, there is the need to adequately fund the Commission through increased budgetary allocation and placement on first line charge so as to enable it to effectively supervise revenue generating agencies such as FIRS, NNPCL, Customs as well as carry out its other constitutional duties.
“The only viable option that will put the Commission on a strong financial pedestal is if Mr. President appends his golden signature on the new Bill placed on his table”.
The Coalition also expressed optimism that the Bill when eventually signed by Mr. President will reposition the Commission by giving it the needed impetus to perform optimally with the removal of financial, legal and regulatory encumbrances that hitherto made it a toothless bulldog that can only bark but not bite.
“While it is apt to note that PBAT does not waste time in signing Bills into law provided they serve the peoples’ best interest as demonstrated in his first few weeks of assumption of power, it is equally concerning that the RMAFC Bill is still in Mr. President’s incoming tray awaiting his final assent”.
In order to expedite action for the Bill to see the light of the day, it also called on other critical stakeholders like the National Economic Council, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, ALGON and the Media to bring their influence to bear on the Presidency to do the needful.
“It is our strong belief that the signing of the Bill into law by Mr. President will translate to stoppage of leakages in revenue generation, increase more revenues into the Federation Account and generally promote transparency and accountability in the management of our Commonwealth in consonance with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope mantra. A stitch in time saves nine”.