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FRC wants Buhari to set borrowing limits for all tiers of government

By on September 10, 2015

Notwithstanding the sustainability of the country’s current public debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio, the acting Chairman of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), Mr. Victor Muruako, on Tuesday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to set borrowing limits for the three tiers of government.

He said such demarcation would help to monitor when any tier of government borrows or about to borrow beyond its limits, warning that debts could get out of hand without proper checks.

According to him, where fiscal responsibility is practiced, limits are imposed on deficits, debts and expenditure while time limits for performing certain duties and obligations are further spelt out.

Speaking in Abuja at the opening of a three-day workshop on the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 (FRA, 2007), Muruako also called for amendment of the act to allow for specific sanctions for infractions.

He disclosed that so far, the commission had ensured that agencies of government remitted over N366 billion operating surplus into the consolidated revenue fund (CRF).

The FRC boss said: “The reality is that once your line of duty does not entail arresting and detaining people on the prompt of mismanaging or embezzling public funds, you may need more than just programmes like workshop to plant your project and make an impact in the society today.”

According to him, “This commission has been a victim of this due to the fact that by the letters of FRA, 2007, we are only to investigate and forward reports to other authorities without the necessary powers to prosecute.
“We are still battling to have these aspects of the law amended to enable the commission have the necessary bite against the violators of the act.”

Muruako further challenged state governors, particularly the newly elected ones, to instill fiscal regime in their respective states to demonstrate commitment to transparency in handling of public resources.

Noting that only 12 states had so far subscribed to the act, he said most state governors were not interested in duplicating the FRA in their states.
He argued that creating an effective fiscal responsibility regime was the way forward for the country and charged Buhari to visit those who have bypassed established laws for selfish reasons.

The FRC Chairman said: “The problem has remained that over the years, successive governments have been selective on which programmes to follow thereby allowing their personal interests to overshadow the natural collective will to progress in line with other countries.

“The current war against corruption and corrupt official is therefore a welcome development. I implore the president to look beyond just embezzlement of cash and misappropriation and extend his dragnet to subversion of rules through kangaroo committees whose singular purpose are to stop the process of achieving greatness for Nigeria.”

He said flagrant disregard for laid down statutory provisions and rules should attract equal if not more punishment.