CONCLUDING STATEMENT OF THE NATIONAL FORUM OF FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY COMMISSIONS

The National Forum of Fiscal Responsibility Commissions was convened by Centre for Social Justice in collaboration with the Fiscal Responsibility Commission. The Forum was held at Hotel de Bently Utako Abuja on the 11th and 12th of May 2015. Participation was drawn from the leadership of the federal and state Fiscal Responsibility Commissions, State Commissioners of Finance, Permanent Secretaries, Directors of Budget, Civil Society and Development Partners.

The Forum was convened to review the implementation of the Fiscal Responsibility Act/Laws at the federal and state levels and to strategise on how to improve implementation; share good practices and jointly resolve knotty implementation challenges. The Forum sought to encourage states that have not passed the Fiscal Responsibility law to do so.

Resource persons at the Forum include the Gene Leon
Senior Resident Representative, IMF in Nigeria, Professor Pat Utomi, Professor Ajakaiye of the Nigerian Economic Society, Elena Mondo of the International Budget Partnership, representatives of the Accountant-General of the Federation and Director-General of the National Institute for Legislative Studies.

At the conclusion of proceedings, the Forum resolved as follows:

  1. Federal and State level FRCs
  • Considering the dwindling resources of the nation and the need for fiscal transparency, Federal and State governments should retain and strengthen their Fiscal Responsibility Commissions or similar agencies.
  • Resolved to establish the National Forum of Fiscal Responsibility Commissions for federal and state level FRCs as a permanent forum for knowledge exchange and information dissemination.
  • FRCs should engage in sensitisation and advocacy to popularise the law and states that are yet to enact the law should be encouraged to do so.
  1. The Capital Budget
  • Consistent poor capital budget implementation over the years demand the full enforcement of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 with an emphasis on renewed capacity building and sanctions for offenders.
  • The idea of financial releases by the Ministry of Finance for projects without cash backing is unsupportable by the provisions of the FRA. Subject to the availability of funds, the Ministry of Finance should in future release all sums due to MDAs.
  • NASS and state legislatures should demand for comprehensive reports on the implementation of capital budgets and also craft provisions in the Appropriation Act/Law which they will combine with the oversight mechanism to ensure the full implementation of capital budgets.
  1. Funding of the Budget and Remittances to the Treasury
  • FRC should take steps to recover the operating surplus of scheduled agencies and other corporations.
  • We recommend the adoption of the Lagos State model for the improvement of the independent revenue and finances of the Federal Government and other states of the Federation.
  • Automation of the revenue collection system and expansion of the non oil revenue base is imperative.
  1. The Excess Crude Account
  • Estimated accruals to ECA and or the SWF should be articulated in the MTEF and the Budget.
  • Withdrawals should be in accordance with S. 36 of the FRA to wit; that no Government in the Federation shall have access to the ECA unless the price of oil falls below the reference commodity price for a period of three consecutive months and the augmentation shall be limited to the sums that will bring the revenue of government to the level contained in the budgetary estimates or a proportion of the savings may be appropriated in the following year for capital expenditure.
  1. Preparation of the MTEF and Budget
  • Future MTEFs should be prepared early for the endorsement of the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCoF); before the end of June and submitted to National Assembly (NASS) immediately after endorsement by the EXCoF. This should be in late June or early July before the commencement of the mid-year legislative recess. This will give the legislature sufficient time to approve the MTEF and for actual preparation of budgetary estimates to start on time.
  • The MTSS should precede the preparation of the MTEF and all relevant stakeholders should be brought on board the preparation process.
  • The MTEF should be anchored on consultations with states, designated agencies of government, organised private sector, civil society and other stakeholders. For the consultations to be effective, the Minister of Finance should make available to stakeholders quarterly budget implementation reports, end of year budget implementation reports for the preceding year and a consultation paper detailing the contours of the proposed MTEF. These documents should be available at least two weeks before the consultation. The process and fact of the consultation should be documented in the MTEF.
  • The Minister of Finance should gazette and publish the approved MTEF and make same available to the public.
  • The Minister of Finance should devise a calendar for the entire MTEF exercise and make same public so that all stakeholders can prepare in advance of the various activities of the MTEF.
  1. Macroeconomic Framework
  • The MTEF should document the projections for economic growth, inflation, interest rate, external reserves and access to credit, etc. It should document the underlying assumptions, facts and logic in support of these projections.
  • The MTEF’s macroeconomic projections should be aligned with Vision 20:2020 and any other extant National Development Plan(s) or show reasons supporting that the targets in Vision 20: 2020 cannot be met.
  • The MTEF should contain an evaluation and analysis of the performance of macroeconomic projections for the preceding three years.
  • Considering the gravity of unemployment, the MTEF should document the present situation; make projections for increased employment and strategies to attain the new projections.
  • The credit policy should provide incentives for savings to ensure that the deposit rate is not less than the inflation rate. Further, the spread between the lending and deposit rate should not exceed 500 basis points.
  1. Fiscal Strategy Paper
  • In accordance with the FRA, the MTEF should show the link between stated priority interventions and the constitutional Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy.
  • Government should reorder its spending priorities and ensure a 60% – 40% balance between recurrent and capital expenditure in the medium term. This can be achieved through the meticulous implementation of the Monetisation Programme, the recommendations of the Expenditure Review Committee and other reforms.
  • Government should provide incentives for the private sector to invest in new refineries – the Public Private Partnership model is recommended. FGN should privatise existing refineries to plug the leaking pipes of corruption and waste that have led to incredible sums being spent on perpetual turn around maintenance operations. Individuals and companies found to have abused the oil subsidy regime should face diligent criminal prosecution.
  • Government should exercise fiscal restraint to ensure that projected fiscal deficits are in accordance with the FRA.
  1. Revenue and Expenditure Framework
  • The MTEF should contain sectoral envelopes, which will show government’s priorities and the reasons informing those priorities. In addition, there should be consistency between the policy thrusts stated in the FSP and the actual votes in the revenue and expenditure framework.
  • In the capital expenditure provisions, more emphasis should be placed on developmental capital as against administrative capital.
  • For the private sector to play the role of providing funding to fill the financing gap for infrastructure and critical sectors, there is the need for government borrowing not to crowd out the private sector. Improved access to credit through coordinated policy implementation by the CBN, DMO and the Finance Ministry is imperative.
  1. Consolidated Debt Statement
  • The President and NASS should take steps to set the limitations of debt for all the three tiers of government in accordance with S.42 of the FRA.
  • MTEF’s borrowing projections should be such as not to exceed the debt-GDP country specific threshold of 25% as approved by the Federal Executive Council. Pruning down recurrent expenditure and reduction of corruption may reduce the need for governmental borrowing.
  • The DSAs and MTEFs should take cognizance of contingent liabilities in building scenarios about risks and debt sustainability.
  • In accordance with the FRA, borrowing must be tied to specific capital or human development projects.
  • Borrowing requests should be backed with a cost benefit analysis before legislative approval.
  1. Contingent Liabilities and Quasi-Fiscal Activities
  • The MTEF should include the nature and quantum of contingent liabilities and quasi-fiscal activities of government.
  • In undertaking new PPP projects which will increase the quantum of contingent liabilities, FGN should carefully select, appraise and involve the expertise of the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission in arriving at the specific projects.
  • FGN interventions qualifying as quasi-fiscal activities and their implications for public finances and macroeconomic stability should be carefully appraised before embarking on them.
  1. Appropriation Bills
  • The budget of all MDAs should be captured under the national budget.
  • All revenue should be captured and paid into the Treasury Single Account.
  • Withdrawals from savings, ECA and reserves should only be spent through appropriation by the NASS and state legislatures.

Signed

Victor Muruako, Acting Chair, Fiscal Responsibility Commission

Benjamin Ibisu, Chairman Taraba State Fiscal Responsibility Commission

Muhammed S. Fawa, Chairman Kebbi State Fiscal Responsibility Commission

Fadele Sunday Olugbenga, Director of Budget, Osun State

Casmir Ugwu, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget, Planning and Economic Development, Enugu State

Professor Ndem Ayara, Economic Adviser, State Planning and Budget Commission, Cross River State

Paul V Luyep, Director of Budget, Ministry of Finance, Plateau State

Eze Onyekpere, Lead Director, CSJ

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CONCLUDING STATEMENT OF THE NATIONAL FORUM OF FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY COMMISSIONS
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