Confab adopts Finance Committee report, approves removal of subsidy




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ABUJA – The National Conference in Abuja on Tuesday adopted the amended report of its Committee on Public Finance and Revenue.
One of the recommendations was the conditional removal of petroleum subsidy by the Federal Government.
The committee had proposed immediate removal of petroleum subsidy, but the recommendation was amended following a motion by 24 delegates moved by Dan Nwanyanwu and supported by the majority.
The motion stated that the Federal Government shall within three years from the date it approved the recommendation build new refineries and repair existing ones to full capacity utilisation.
“That private sector entrepreneurs who have already been granted licences to build new refineries shall within a period of three years from date, build new refineries or automatically forfeit such licences.
“This is to enable other participants who are ready and willing to build such refineries within a period of three years the to do so.
“That upon fulfilment of the preceding conditions the Federal Government shall be free to remove any exiting subsidy from petroleum products,’’ the motion stated.
The conference called on the National Assembly to enact an “Ill-Gotten Gain Act’’ that will compel individuals to explain the sources of their wealth’’ to check corruption in the country.
It recommended the appointment of two Accountants-Generals, one for the Federation and another for the Federal Government on a single term of six years.
This is to enhance accountability, transparency and avoid mistrust between the sub-nationals and the Federal Government.
It suggested that the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission be placed on first-line charge to make it independent from the interference of the legislative arm of government.
It recommended review of the commission mandates to include the regulation of pension, and rejected the amendment of Section 70 of the 1999 Constitution to place the salaries and allowances of political officeholders at par with senior civil servants.
It also resolved that government agencies responsible for revenue generation and collection must comply with Section 162(3) of the 1999 Constitution.
The section required them to remit gross revenue in full to the Federation Account and resort to normal budget process of obtaining budget approval from the National Assembly to fund their operations.
The conference suggested the amendment of the enabling Acts which empowered departments and agencies of government to retain revenues and surplus to fund their operations.
It, however, rejected recommendations for establishment of Revenue Courts on Tax issues and engagement of licenced professionals as tax administrators or consultants.
It recommended that solid minerals and mines be included in the concurrent legislative list and increasing 1.68 per cent to 5 five per cent charge on federation account for development of the sector.
The conference agreed that 50 per cent of accruals from excess crude account and equivalent percentage of earnings from solid minerals should be saved in the Sovereign Wealth Fund.
It adopted the recommendation for the establishment of Agricultural Development Fund with 10 per cent contribution from the excess crude account to boost mechanised farming in the country.
It recommended that external borrowing should be tied to designated project and the establishment of Management Offices in each state of the Federation to monitor projects tied to the funds.
It, however, rejected a proposal of a five to 10 years moratorium be placed on government from incurring external borrowing.
It recommended that Section 85(3) be deleted from the 1999 Constitution to enable the Auditor-General of the Federation to audit or appoint external auditors to audit Federal Government accounts.
The conference recommended that government should source for funds to revamp Ajaokuta Steel Projects and other steel projects through public private partnership.
The conference would on Wednesday commence deliberation on the Public Committee report read on Tuesday by its chairman.  (NAN)