Habib Oladapo (with Agency Reports)
The Senate has said it rejected a N143bn FIRS budget because of ambiguity and lacking details. The Red chamber also berated its Committee on Finance for not properly scrutinizing the budget.
The Senate came up with this while debating on the recommendations of the committee during plenary on Thursday. While some senators said it was fraught with ambiguities, others pointed out duplication of projects in the proposed budget. They also raised alarm over certain inclusions which they said re-occurred every year.
The N143bn FIRS Budget
According to the budget document, the FIRS had a total available revenue of N146,165,108,293 but only budgeted for N143,904,640,00. This leaves over N2.4bn unbudgeted.
Proposed expenditure includes: Purchase of vehicles -N2.3bn, Purchase of furniture and equipment -N5.1bn and acquisition of land and building -N5.5bn.
New headquarters building -N10bn, N4bn for repairs and rehabilitation, N3.9bn for other infrastructures while Miscellaneous expenditure is N7.5bn.
Office materials and supplies –N440m: Library books and periodicals – N68m, Computer materials and supplies- N530m and Printing of non-security documents N1.9bn.
Tax investigation and monitoring is to take up N2.5bn, while Tax investigation is N500m while Monitoring and Compliance Enhancement is N1.5bn.
Printing of security documents- N250m, Maintenance of office furniture and equipment -N90m, Maintenance of building office -N300m and Maintenance of office equipments -N266m.
Maintenance of computers and IT equipments -N12m, Maintenance of plants/generators was N170m, generator fuel cost N750m while N700m was allocated to motor vehicle fuel cost. Cleaning and fumigation services N750m, Office rent -N885m. Also, N250m for security vote, N500m for Legal services.
Refreshment and meals -N586m, Hire of hall, accommodation and events -N350m, Honorarium and sitting allowance -N150m while Publicity, advert and taxpayers education -N2bn.
Medical expenditure -N700m, Postages and courier services -N244m and Welfare packages -N681m.
Internet Access -N300m, Satellite broadcasting access -N400m and telephone charges N320m.
The Senate Committee on Finance led by John Enoh had presented the report to the chamber. This is coming four months after the President submitted the FIRS budget back in July.
On the FIRS proposed budget, the report presented by the committee read in part, “The Federal Inland Revenue Service projected to collect tax revenues to the tune of N4.082tn in 2016. This comprises N484bn oil and N3.597tn non-oil revenues.
“The projected 4% cost of collection on non-oil revenue is N143,904,640,000. The total projected available fund for the 2016 budget is N146,165,108,293, comprising 4% cost of collection and N2,260,468,293 or 20% of the 2015 operating surplus.”
The committee also stated the summary of the proposed 2016 expenditure of the service as follows: personnel, N64,491,130,526; overhead, N46,363,000,000; and capital, N32,868,300,000, bringing the total expenditure to N143,722,430,526.
“The total personnel costs are for salaries, wages, allowances, performance bonuses and social contributions. The 8,000 members of staff are proposed to be on the payroll during the 2016 financial year, which accounts for the increase of 19% above the actual staff strength of 6,748. The projection presumes a recruitment of new staff members in 2016.”
“The overhead cost is very vital in driving the achievement of the FIRS’ core objectives of tax revenue generation. The provisions in the 2016 budget give more emphasis on availability of office materials, training, consulting and professional services, and publicity.”
The committee thereby recommended that a total expenditure of N143,722,430,526 be approved for the FIRS.
Other members of the committee who signed the report include: Sen. Usman Kurfi (Deputy Chairman), Sen. Usman Nafada, Sen. Hope Uzodimma and Sen. Mustapha Sani.
It also includes Sen. Joshua Dariye, Sen. Yahaya Abdullahi, Sen. Adeola Solomon, Sen. Nelson Effiong and Sen. Yusuf Yusuf.
Some of the duplicated projects as noted by the lawmakers include the N586m budgeted for refreshment and meals; N350m for “hire of hall, accommodation and events;” N681m for welfare packages; N200m for sporting activities; and N150m for honorarium.
The sum of N683m was budgeted for security services; N250m for security vote; N90m for office furniture and equipment, while another N300m was budgeted for maintenance of office building; N266m for maintenance of office equipment; and also N120m for maintenance of computers and IT equipment.
Also, about N170m was budgeted for maintenance of plants and generators; N120m was set aside for “other maintenance services;” N440m was budgeted for office materials and supplies; N68m for library books and periodicals; N530m for computer materials and supplies; N1.9bn for printing of non-security documents; and N100m for other materials and supplies.
Furthermore, N2.5bn was budgeted for tax audit investigation and monitoring, while another N500bn was appropriated for tax investigation; N170m for maintenance of plants and generators; N750m was set aside for generator fuel; N700m for motor vehicle fuel; and N1.45bn for general fuel and lubricants.
However, the committee approved both the recurrent and capital expenditures as proposed by the FIRS.
Meanwhile, Senators berated the Chairman of the Committee on Finance, John Enoh for attempting to defend the poor budget of the FIRS.
While presiding over plenary, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, frowned at the Committee for copying the budget request in the exact way it was presented without any scrutiny or query.
He further queried the committee for not effecting any changes even though there were certain aspects of the budget that were ambiguous and seemingly duplicated.
“I will partly blame these things on the late submission of budgets. This practice where government agencies send their budgets late to the National Assembly and expect them to be passed immediately will not be tolerated.”
“They must submit their budgets early so that we can have enough time to work on their proposals. If we do that, these issues we have here will not arise. The relevant committees should take note of that and ensure that right thing is done.”
Consequently, he ruled and returned the report to Senator Enoh’s committee. He further asked the committee to work on the grey areas in its report and represent it in one week.