The chairman of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) Alhaji Aliyu Jibril Yelwa has described as daunting, the implementation of the Fiscal Responsibility Act at the state and local levels of government in the country. Yelwa regretted that most stakeholders tend to think that the Act is only applicable to the federal level alone. Yelwa, who spoke in Abuja at a two-day forum on the execution of the Act organised by the House of Representatives and the Centre for Social Justice, lamented that states and local government across the country have yet to buy into the Fiscal Responsibility Act. He noted that the daunting task of implementing the Act at the lower levels of government arose from the fact that the state and local government lacked technical capacity and legal frame work for fiscal discipline. He also noted that the states and local government do not have the existing models and templates, records, process or examples on which to build.
Yelwa, however, stated that the commission is willing to guide and assist operators of public financial management on their responsibility as provided for under 54 of the Act. This mindset, he added, may hinder the effectiveness of the act when it is realised that state and local government control over 48 per cent of the national shared resources. According to Yelwa, the state governments are all bound by the provisions for the preparation of the Medium Term Expenditure Frame work, Savings and Assets Management and the excess Crude Account, Debt and indebtedness and borrowing. However, Yelwa said the commission had begun enlightening all state governments, heads of ministries, agencies as well as banks and other financial institutions under the Act.
He added that most of the fiscal performance report submitted by the agencies were riddled with material inconsistencies, over spending, under spending under utilisation of funds, misapplication of funds, revenue sub-optimality, outright revenue leakages, etc. some of the responses, he added, fell short of the standard and world best practices in financial and accountings reporting system. Yelwa said the commission, having observed some lapses in the first quarter Budget Implementation Report, 2009 has now designed a format which it has forwarded to the appropriate quarters, adding that the commission will soon undertake on the spot visits to physically verify and confirm actual existence of projects.
Alhaji Yelwa said despite the economity of the task, the commission was undaunted, adding that it will soon convene a stakeholders’ forum to address issues of leakage in revenue collection, spending inefficiencies, management of public funds, borrowing and other abnormalities.
FOI Act Implementation Bothers BPST Boss
The Director-General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Dr Dasuki Arabi, has expressed regrets that the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has remained very low since the law was enacted.
The BPSR boss made the observation during a workshop held on Wednesday in Abuja on the appraisal of Freedom of Information Act.
Arabi said the Act was meant to entrench transparency and openness in governance through improved compliance to annual reporting obligations of public institutions.
“It is also expected to guide and improve compliance of public institutions in proactive disclosure of mandatory publication requirements, as well as empower citizens, the right to access information held by the state.
“Regrettably, since the introduction of the FOI Act, it is evident that the level of compliance among public institutions still remains low.
“While the level of engagement by citizens still remains insignificant and in some cases fraught with misunderstanding between the State and Non-State actors,” he added.
Arabi, therefore, said that the workshop was to resolve some of the grey areas around FOI, as well as foster a harmonious relationship between the State and Non-State actors towards the implementation of the Act.
He said good governance and transparency would only thrive in the country when citizens access to Information is assured.
The DG emphasised that the FOIA provided platform for inclusiveness that sought to hold leaders to account and feed into the decision making process.
Arabi said that the Bureau had worked assiduously towards the implementation of the Act and was making efforts to ensure that it was institutionalized across the public sector.
He said that the interventions were in the areas of training public service workers and development of feedback mechanism through which a portal for application and responses for FOI request were deployed.
Others, he said, are score-card for ranking the performances of websites of public institutions using specific benchmarks, including FOI portal.
“Creating platforms for citizens engagement with Civil Societies Organizations on topical issues of government through the BPSR flagship programmes such as the monthly Lunchtime Seminar series,” he added.
Arabi said that the Bureau had also deployed information technology to provide innovative means to improve record keeping and management using intranet and Electronic Data Management Systems.
He continued that they were working in conjunction with the Nigeria Economic Summit Group to gauge the perception of citizens on public policies.
In her remarks, the National Coordinator, Open Government Partnership (OGP), Nigeria, Dr Gloria Ahmed, said making information open was a hallmark of democracy and a basic human right.
She said that the FOIA has given citizens the opportunity to access information as regards government policies and reforms.
FCTA Harmonises Mobile Adverts, Haulage System Against Double Taxation
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Department of Outdoor Advertisement and Signage (DOAS), has launched the FCT/State Mobile Advertisement and Haulage permits for 2023 financial year.
Permanent Secretary, FCTA, Mr Olusade Adesola, while launching the system sought the cooperation of the business owners in the FCT, in order to achieve the objective of the initiative.
Adesola said the move was part of efforts to facilitate the ease of doing business drive in the nation’s capital.
He commended DOAS for the initiative. aimed at improving institutional cooperation and partnerships with the critical stakeholders.
Adesola warned: “FCTA would no longer tolerate acts of thuggery in the collection of taxes, as there are better ways of doing such, which will ensure the attainment of ease of doing business.”
He commended the leadership of Area Councils for resolving to synergise with DOAS to streamline the system.
The Permanent Secretary said the proliferation of collection authorities for mobile advertisements had led to serious loss of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the FCT.
Earlier, the Executive Chairman, Kwali Area Council, Danladi Chiya, said although Area Councils have the constitutional right to collect such advertisements, they have no issue with FCTA over the establishment and mandate of DOAS.
LASG Begins Vehicle Parking Lanes Demacation
The Lagos State Parking Authority (LASPA) has revealed it will today commence creating additional Vehicle Parking Lanes in some selected locations across the State.
The Authority stated that all efforts have been geared towards improving the parking system of the State.
Speaking on the planned initiative on Friday in Ikeja, the General Manager of LASPA, Mrs. Adebisi Adelabu, stated that the vehicle parking lane mark exercise, which will begin with designated streets within Surulere, Ikoyi, Lekki, Obalende, Ikeja and Victoria Island axis of the State, is a step towards improving street parking from 2023.
Adelabu noted that the Parking Lane Markings will further guide motorists and pedestrians on appropriate parking regulations and spaces, minimise indiscriminate parking, confusion and uncertainty, while conveying a range of information to residents on parking procedures within each specified environment.
According to her, the lane markings will also include special consideration for people living with disabilities and signposts for parking directives, among other features.
The General Manager, however, solicited the understanding of residents within the locations who might be affected by any inconvenience the process might cause, assuring that the government is working rigorously in regulating and improving the parking culture as part of its Traffic Management and Transportation Agenda to ensure parking is convenient, safe and secure across the state.
Recall that the Authority had recently unveiled plans to begin full implementation of parking policy in the second quarter of 2023 and has continued to sensitise the public on the need to embrace the parking culture.
By; Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
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