Commission unveils fiscal responsibility index for MDAs

Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice,Eze Onyekwere

Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice,Eze Onyekwere

Nigeria scores 24% in budget transparency
The Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) has unveiled its first ever bench marking and comparative assessment of fiscal responsibility across Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs), to promote fiscal discipline and curb corruption.

However, a striking information from the index showed that out of the 16 MDAs that were covered in the survey, from 2011-2013, nine were below the index minimum benchmark, implying that their performances were below expectations.
The nine MDAs include Federal Ministries of Lands and Housing; Transport; Health; Women Affairs; Science and Technology; Aviation; Finance; Water Resources; and Education.

The Fiscal Responsibility Index was developed with inputs from different civil society groups, professional associations and government agencies. It is a flagship assessment of how MDAs at the Federal level have complied with the provisions of these laws, policies and regulations using the locally developed index.

At the official public presentation in Abuja, the Acting Chairman of the (FRC), Victor Muruako said that in terms of policy-based budgeting sub-index, the Federal Ministry of Works followed by Trade and Investment, Mines and Steel, Environment, Agriculture, Power, Youths Development, Lands and Housing, Transport, Health, Women Affairs, Science and Technology, Aviation, Finance, Water Resources and Education in that order applied policy based budgeting.

He equally stated that evidence from the second sub-index, which looked at budget comprehensiveness and transparency shows that apart from environment in the survey period, no other selected MDA crossed the benchmark line, implying that these focal MDAs cannot be said to be budget comprehensiveness and transparency compliant.

The findings corroborated the latest result of the country in the 2015 open budget index where Nigeria scored 24 out of 100 points in budget transparency.

In terms of budget credibility, he noted that being the third sub-index, only one MDA(Aviation) has the score that is higher than the benchmark in the study period.
‘’With regards to the fourth sub-index on budget implementation, monitoring and evaluation, the results showed that apart from the Federal MDAs such as Agriculture, Lands and Housing, as well as Youths Development for the period of the survey, other selected MDAs have scores below the index benchmark.
“Also interesting is the fact that evidence from the survey shows that in the sub-index benchmark of accounting, recording, reporting and external auditing, most MDAs had scores above the index benchmarks ‘’.
‘’Assessing the role of the Finance Ministry in the preparation of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, [MTEF], survey evidence within the study period shows that of all the provisions, the Ministry was able to perform two out of 10 roles to a maximum point’’

The Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice [CSJ] Eze Onyekwere said that the index product is a collaboration between his organisation, the FRC, with funding support from Open Society Initiatives for West Africa (OSIWA), which were all about the improvement of fiscal governance in Nigeria.

Muruako noted that the index is set to achieve among other things, the application of “a domestic framework of indicators and indices for monitoring and assessing the level of fiscal prudence across federal MDAs, to produce baseline empirical data and statistics for assessing the identified indications and indices as well as promote the use of the fiscal responsibility report in identifying, designing and implementing reforms.”

The Programme Coordinator of OSIWA, Amenaghawon Idahosa said that of recent, there has been a renewed call for government agencies not to shirk their responsibility in remittance of their operating surplus adding that that is what it should be.

Since it began operation in 2009, the commission had made remittance of operating surplus by MDAs its battle cry, such that it has induced payment of over N367 billion operation surplus by MDAs to the consolidated revenue fund as at August, 2015’’ stressing that ‘’such unprecedented achievement can only spur us to do more’’.

He said that the commission has gone further to research and come up with a new template for determining operating surplus for scheduled corporations adding that in due course, meeting of relevant stakeholders will be convened to brainstorm on the new template.

The realities of our present economic situation has made it imperative that every other revenue generating Agency of government is brought into the legal obligation to remit their operating surplus to government coffers beyond those listed in the schedule to the Act so as to shove up government’s revenue base,’’ he noted.

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