By Moses Uwagbale
The Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) has recommended that the Federal Government reconsiders the payment of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) funds to contractors in the interest of the nation’s economy.
Mr Victor Muruako, the Acting Chairman, FRC made the recommendation at a capacity building programme on the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), 2007 for the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) in Abuja.
Muruako said the FRC was mandated to verify capital budget projects, which had revealed “cutting corners by government agencies” and sought to cross-check actual job delivery against funds released to agencies.
“The objective of the Act is to ensure that citizens get value for every money government released for project.
“A lot has been reviewed through our verification exercise concerning all sorts of diversions including compromise of government consultants to capital projects.
“We (FRC) are of the view that the habit of factoring in consultancy fees under the charge of the contractor, that system should be reviewed because it brings serious compromise and collusion between consultants and contractors.
“Those consultants are supposed to work and protect the interest of the project and the government.
“We therefore call on the government to reconsider payment of Monitoring and Evaluation funds to contractors. This should be checked henceforth.”
The acting chairman also said that with the existence of anti-graft agencies, the country’s economic state would be strengthened.
“We have faced some level of resistance by some government agencies who prefer to squander revenue in luxury goods and wasteful expenditures against the need to remit the much needed earnings to Consolidated Revenue Funds of Federal Government.
“But today, following the interagency relationship with anti-graft agencies and Ministry of Justice, a lot will begin to change as it can never be business as usual because the Federal Government needs all of its funds more now.”
Muruako said that the commission had worked hard to ensure all agencies in the schedule of FRA 2007 were sensitised enough to understand what was expected of them.
He explained that the FRC was working toward recommending more agencies in addition to the scheduled ones and was considering agencies to be delisted from the schedule based on certain considerations.
“The considerations relate to the operations and welfare of the Nigerian people.”
He reiterated that the FRC had also encouraged states and local governments to adopt the Fiscal Responsibility Law through the provision of technical assistance.
“By this time next week, we will gather all the states in the southern zone of the country in Port Harcourt to encourage some of the states that have not adopted the law, to see how we can get them to agree.
“Allowing the states to run without much interest in fiscal responsibility is also affecting our micro economic stability,” he said.
Muruako commended the NRC for its foresight and facilitation of the capacity building workshop aimed at the clarification of the provisions of the FRA 2007 and the template for calculation of Operating Surplus.
In her response, Mrs Adunola Osunmakinde, the Deputy Director Finance, NRC urged participants to take advantage of the programme and acquaint themselves with more knowledge of government policies and businesses.
“We appreciate the rich course content designed for our staff which is very suitable as we undertake the area of railway modernisation.’’