The Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, has queried the non-disclosure of interests accruing to Nigeria’s foreign reserve accounts by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Speaking when a delegation from the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) visited him in Abuja, he said that agencies like the commission should be in custody of such figures for dissemination to the public when necessary.
The House had on Dec.15, 2015, passed a resolution calling on the CBN to declare interests accruing on the foreign reserves accounts of the federation.
“We earn interest on foreign reserves, like Botswana. They don’t have oil but the interest on reserve is their second highest revenue source after 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 interest and what is the interest; nobody has ever told us,’’ Dogara said.
He said that CBN was the custodian of foreign reserves.
But, he pointed out that if they are not forthcoming with regards to what had been happening with the interest earned on foreign reserves, there should be an agency of government to handle it.
The speaker also sought to know why the ceiling on borrowing as stated in the FRC Act was not adhered to, saying “do we continue borrowing until we have borrowed billions?
“The Fiscal Responsibility Act speaks to those things, so, why is it that it is not being done?’’ he asked.
He said that there was urgent need for the government to properly fund the commission to enable it to deliver on its mandate and strengthen its powers.
According to Dogara, the commission has the capacity to reduce corruption by over 80 per cent.
He said that the approach adopted by the government to fight corruption through the EFCC to punish corruption offenders after the crime has been committed should be redirected to checking the root of the problem.
He said that the motive for, or the reason for the establishment of FRC was for Nigeria to have an agency that would ensure that it had efficient allocation of resources.
According to the speaker, once resources in a country are not efficiently allocated, or in an efficient manner, there is bound to be dislocation in the economy of that country.
“If we hope to get the best from agencies such as this, it means that we have to resolve across board to put some resources at the disposal of the agency.
“But, if we think that we cannot fund the agency and the agency will live up to expectations, I think we are only deceiving ourselves.
“From the way we are fighting corruption, it is like emphasis is built on EFCC, 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.
“These are preventive agencies and we ought to invest more in agencies such as the Fiscal Responsibility Commission because we have to make it difficult for corruption itself to take place.
“Once we do that, we will be applying the remedy at the root of corruption.
“There is no limit to the kind of attention we can pay to agencies like this, 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 per cent,’’ he said.
Earlier, Chairman of FRC, Mr Victor Muruako, urged the speaker to facilitate the speedy amendment of the Act establishing the commission.
He said that there was need to empower the commission to retain a percentage of the operating surplus it collected from ministries, departments and agencies on behalf of the Federal Government.
“This is in order to boost its activities and grant it financial independence.’’