By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – THE Senate Thursday passed the 2017 budget of the News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) worth N132,550, 000.01.
This followed the presentation of the report of the 2017 Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) Budget and Expenditure of government-owned information agencies during plenary.
The agencies included National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).
Presenting the report, Chairman Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation, Sen. Suleiman Adokwe said that NAN’s projection was N132, 550, 000.00 while projected expenditure was N132, 550, 000.01.
According to him, the agency’s IGR performance for 2016 was 97.54 per cent, adding, “The agency did not remit 25 per cent Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) in the year 2016 due to inadequate overhead releases.
“The amount meant to be remitted was used for the running of the organisation.”
He further said that the actual IGR budget for 2016 was N129, 298, 342.89 while the expenditure was N129, 298, 342.72..
The chairman said that the committee observed that NAN should widen its revenue base through introduction of new products.
Also the Senate passed that of NTA which was worth N4,094,179,773.00, NBC, N2,090,009,787.62 while that of FRCN was N2,014,345,624.96.
While considering the report, Sen. Jibrin Barau, APC, Kano North decried why some the agencies were not able to make the appropriate remittances to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), adding, If these agencies are able to make those remittances, there would be more monies to fund budgets.”
Also speaking, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, PDP, Abia North said that the agencies were income generating agencies and as such it was epected that they assisted in remitting to the CRF, adding, “We must ensure we enforce these agencies to pay at least the 20 per cent remittance, even if they cannot, at the end of the year we should see at least a remittance of 10 per cent into the CRF.”
Similarly, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, APC, Kaduna North noted that “these things keep recurring by these agencies. It shows that we truly have a responsibility within the chamber to sit up and look at these expenditure profiles as it will align with the revenue profiles of these agencies. If we sit down and these budgets as approved, and they apply them differently as they wish, what is the use then.
“This is a clear manifestation that these agencies run accounts that do not pass the litmus test and approval of the financial regulations as enshrined.
“We must rise to the responsibility particularly on IGR budgets so that at the of the end day, we will be able to make enough savings.”
Responding to questions raised, the chairman said that the IGR performances of the agencies “was far below expectation. If you look at NTA, there are a lot of government agencies that are owing NTA; but they can better than that.”
Adokwe said that as government corporations having fundamental duties, they must ensure they did not go off air, adding, “NTA has the capacity to generate over N10 million per annum, unfortunately, they are weakened by debts.”
For NAN, the chairman said the committee had looked into it not remitting any amount at all, adding, “That is both looked into by the Accountant-General of the Federation and the committee.
“I plead that we cannot because of that refuse to approve the budget because they have to function. They are the major agency of government that disseminate news both locally and internationally.
“We believe that these agencies have the capacity to generate these projections. What remains is for us to have a serious oversight function to ensure that there are no leakages and that what is collected is what is taken into the treasury.”
In his remarks, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu said ”this Senate does not rubber stamp any request from any agencies of government or from government itself. We look at things from merit. We call on those government agencies, especially NTA and Radio Nigeria to make effort to recover monies owed them.”