Speaking when a delegation from the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), led by its acting chairman, Mr Victor Muruako, paid him a courtesy visit in his office, the Speaker said agencies like the FRC should be in custody of such figures for dissemination to the public when necessary.
The House had on 15th December, 2015, passed a resolution calling on the Central Bank of Nigeria to declare interests accruable to the foreign reserves accounts of the federation.
“We earn interest on foreign reserves, like Botswana. Because they don’t have oil, it is the second highest revenue after resources earned from natural resources. You will see it as a budget item: interest earned from foreign reserves. In Nigeria, we have been asking the question, “are we earning or are we just running charity with it or just leave people to manage it? Are we capitalising the inerest? What is the interest? Nobody has ever told us.,”
So which one is the government agency that you can run to and easily obtain this information? CBN, of course, is the one managing it. It is the custodian of the foreign reserves we have but the point is that if they are not forthcoming with regards to what has been happening with the interest earned on foreign reserves, there should be an agency of government that we can run to.”
He also sought to know why the ceiling on borrowing as stated in the FRC Act is not adhered to, saying, “do we continue borrowing, borrowing, borrowing until we have borrowed billions? The Fiscal Responsibility Act speaks to those things so why is it that it is not being done?”
“If we hope to get the best from agencies such as yours, it means that we have to resolve across board to put some resources at the disposal of the agency otherwise, if we think that we cannot fund the agency but the agency will live up to expectations, I think we are only deceiving ourselves.
“Even from the way we are fighting corruption, it is like emphasis is built on EFCC; what EFCC does, it stops there. But the problem with that approach that you are dealing with symptoms of corruption and corruption is like a tree. Once you continue to deal with the leaves and the fruits, and the root is still there, you cannot totally eliminate corruption. You end up jailing people, waiting for people to commit offence and it is like applying the medicine after the event.
“So there is no limit to the kind of attention we can pay to agencies like these because this is the right way to combat corruption itself to ensure that resources are efficiently allocated and that we have fiscal discipline. Once we have done that, we would have reduced incidents of corruption by perhaps, over 80 percent.”