The federal government has urged state governments to domesticate the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) to enhance prudence and eliminate wastes and corruption in public finance management.
Specifically, the apex government called on the Imo State Government to expedite action in enacting the fiscal framework bill, which would improve transparency in government spending and budgetary process.
The Chairman of Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), Mr. Victor Muruako made this case while hosting a delegation from Imo State House of Assembly in his office, Abuja on Friday.
The delegation, which was on a solidarity courtesy call, was led by the Speaker of the House, Mr. Paul Emeziem and comprised the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Amarachi Iwuanyanwu, and other principal officers members.
At the session with Imo’s lawmakers, Muruako disclosed that states which are yet to replicate the FRA are missing out on certain incentives and financial grants, adding that efforts made by the Commission to get Imo State in particular to domesticate the act, were not complemented by previous administrations in the State.
He, therefore, expressed the readiness of the Commission to partner with the State lawmakers to pass the bill, noting that Governor Hope Uzodinma has indicated support towards the initiative.
He said: “In September, last year, we invited top members of the administration including the Hon. Speaker, Imo House of Assembly to an important advocacy event in Port Harcourt to address the issue of fiscal responsibility at the sub-national level. I was honestly disappointed to notice the low calibre representation from Imo at the programme.
“After Sen. Hope Uzodinma was sworn-in as Governor of Imo State, we engaged the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice on the matter, and even though he indicated his interest in the matter and accepted our offer of technical assistance, not much traction has been achieved in moving the process forward, hence my desire to use this opportunity to bring the unsavoury situation to your attention, that is, the negative narrative of the home state of the Chairman of the FRC not having a fiscal responsibility law in place.”
According to the chairman, lack of fiscal responsibility law is denying my states some benefits. We hope this meeting will help to pass the Fiscal Responsibility law.”
He anchored the imperative of his advocacy on the fact that “our country is today challenged in almost every aspect/level of governance – and this situation, complicated by the covid-19 pandemic, makes it profoundly imperative that government at all levels must as a matter of urgency prioritize the setting up of policies, processes and legislation that essentially optimises the delivery of Good Governance through prudent and efficient allocation/disbursement of limited revenue/resources, transparent and accountable management of public funds and maintaining a sustainable level of public debt.”
He explained further: “In executing its mandate and for its efforts to achieve the desired results, the Fiscal Responsibility Commission is very mindful of the strategic importance of bringing the sub-national governments on board in establishing the regime of rule-based fiscal responsibility legislations across the three tiers of government in order to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of public funds.
“While we are glad to report a reasonable degree of success in our endeavours and advocacy over the years in this regard, resulting in the enactment of fiscal responsibility laws in at least 22 States of the federation and counting, it is sad and painful for me personally to note that my beloved State of Imo is yet to join the moving train in-spite of a series of specific efforts on our part right from 2015 after I became the Acting Chairman of the Commission.”
The FRC chairman however commended Governor Uzodinma for the transformational governance he has so far exhibited with the valuable support and collaboration of the Speaker and Hon. Members of the Imo State House of Assembly, adding that the enactment of fiscal responsibility law in the state will multiply current efforts at development.
Accordingly, he said the FRC “stands ready and willing to partner with the Imo State House of Assembly especially in providing indispensable technical assistance that will lead to the enactment of an effective Fiscal Responsibility Law for Imo State that is responsive to the dynamics of present day fiscal and public finance realities.”
Responding to the appeal by the Chairman, the Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly said the state parliament will be willing to partner with the Commission to pass the law.
He also commended President Muhamadu Buhari for the work on the Second Niger Bridge and confirmation of the appointment of Muruako.
The FRA was enacted in 2007 after passage by the National Assembly and assent by the President. 22 states have domesticated the act so far, according to Muruako.