The Senate on Thursday passed the 2017 budget of parastatal agencies under the Federal Ministry of Information, including the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
This followed the presentation of the report of the 2017 Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) Budget and Expenditure of Federal Government-owned information agencies during plenary.
The other agencies are National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).
The Senate, however passed N132.5 million for NAN while its projection for the year was N132.5 million.
Presenting the report, Chairman, Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation, Sen. Suleiman Adokwe said the agency’s IGR performance for 2016 was 97.54 per cent.
He further said that the actual IGR budget for 2016 was N129.2 million while the expenditure was N129.2 million
The chairman said that the committee observed that NAN needed to widen its revenue base through introduction of new products.
The senate also passed that of NTA which was N4 billion; NBC, N2 billion while that of FRCN was also N2 billion.
While considering the report, Sen. Jibrin Barau (APC-Kano) decried why some of the agencies were not able to make the appropriate remittances to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).
“If these agencies are able to make those remittances, there would be more monies to fund the budgets,” Barau said.
Also, Sen. Mao Ohuabunwa (PPA-Abia) said the agencies were income-generating and as such, expected to remit to the CRF.
“We must ensure we enforce these agencies to pay at least the 20 per cent remittance; even if they cannot, at the end of the year we should see at least a remittance of 10 per cent into the CRF,” he said.
Similarly, Sen. Suleiman Hunkuyi (APC-Kaduna) noted that “these things keep recurring by these agencies.
“It shows that we truly have a responsibility within the chamber to sit up and look at these expenditure profiles as it will align with the revenue profiles of these agencies,” he said.
“If we sit down and these budgets as approved, and they apply them differently as they wish, what is the use then.
“This is a clear manifestation that these agencies run accounts that do not pass the litmus test and approval of the financial regulations as enshrined.
“We must rise to the responsibility, particularly on IGR budgets so that at the end of the day, we will be able to make enough savings,” Hunkuyi said.
Responding to questions raised, the chairman said the IGR performances of the agencies were far below expectation.
“If you look at NTA, there are a lot of government agencies that are owing NTA.”
Adokwe said that as government corporations having fundamental duties, they must ensure they did not go off air.
“We believe that these agencies have the capacity to generate these projections. What remains is for us to have a serious oversight function to ensure that there are no leakages and that what is collected is what is taken into the treasury,” Adokwe said.
In his remarks, Deputy Senate President, Mr Ike Ekweremadu, said “this Senate does not rubber stamp any request from any agencies of government or from government itself ”.
“We look at things from merit. We call on those government agencies, especially NTA and Radio Nigeria, to make effort to recover monies owed them.”(NAN)