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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Senate launches probe into tax waivers, calls for scrutiny of NIPOST, finance laws violators

Upper Legislative Chamber Passes 2024-2026 Medium Term Expenditure Framework Amidst Calls for Transparency

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The Senate has embarked on a comprehensive investigation into all tax waivers granted by the Federal Government from 2015 to the present, urging the cancellation of waivers not directly linked to non-governmental or non-profit organizations. This decision, part of the 2024-2026 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper passage, also includes a call for the deregistration of irregular and illegal subsidiaries of the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST).

During the deliberations on Wednesday, the Senate underscored the need for a detailed probe into the N10 billion released by the Ministry of Finance for the proposed restructuring and recapitalization of NIPOST. Additionally, the legislative body advocated for stringent punishments, including jail terms, for violators of finance laws.

The passage of the executive communication involved the consideration and adoption of the report of the Ad Hoc Committee established for this purpose. The report, presented by Senator Sani Musa, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and Chairman of the Joint Committee, highlighted key parameters of the MTEF/FSP.

The approved MTEF/FSP includes new borrowings of N7.8 trillion, a benchmark oil price of $73.96 for 2024, and a daily oil production volume of 1.78 million barrels. Other parameters encompass a GDP growth rate of 3.76 percent, an inflation rate of 21.40 percent, a suggested benchmark exchange rate of N700 to $1, and a projected budget deficit of N9.04 trillion.

The Senate emphasized the importance of the Federal Government’s target-setting approach and its commitment to enhancing major revenue-generating agencies’ collection efficiency. It also urged the National Assembly to initiate the process of amending the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA, 2007) to enforce fiscal responsibility and impose sanctions on erring corporations.

The legislative body called for a thorough review of laws governing revenue-generating agencies to identify sections or clauses needing amendments to enhance revenue generation and curb waste. The adoption of ICT in revenue collection by ministries, departments, and agencies, as well as prompt payments for services provided by government agencies, were also emphasized to block leakages.

Furthermore, the Senate recommended the re-evaluation of underlying assumptions for all federal government agencies’ income targets and continuous assessment of the qualifications and performance of agency heads. It urged the Ministry of Finance Inc., to examine the activities of government agencies operating under commercialization arrangements, suggesting amendments to the Bureau of Public Enterprises Act to eliminate conflicts.

In concluding recommendations, the Senate called on the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Limited to reduce its production and operational costs to increase government revenue.

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