The Senate on Thursday urged the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to come up with more formidable revenue platforms to complement the Remita payment platform of the Federal Government.
This, the upper chamber said, was to ensure that revenue leakages from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) were blocked.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Sen. Olamilekan Adeola, gave the charge when the Accountant General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris, appeared before the committee.
The accountant general was at the chambers to defend the 2021 Budget of the Office held at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.
It was reported that Remita is a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) licensed platform, developed in Nigeria and helps organisations and individuals receive and make payments.
It is the platform for payment and collections of funds on behalf of the Federal Government for the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
Adeola said that: “This is one area we want to work with you closely because there have been complaints about Remita as the sole platform.
“It is good that you are bringing more platforms on board, the quantum of money to the system, only one platform cannot suffice.
“Starting from now, we need to be working with you very closely as to how many of these revenue platforms are we bringing again.
“Thank God the Government Integrated Financial and Management Information System (GIFMIS) is there working. I know only when we are paying salaries that GIFMIS had issues because salaries have to go first.
“Any other payment will be hanging until salaries go and payments start going but for revenue, that cannot be the issue, every second, every minute, monies are being paid into government, and as such we need more revenue platforms that are formidable, that are up to the task to come on board.
“As soon as possible, we want to see more revenue platforms coming on board. Remita has been there for over six years and they have been collecting the commissions running into billions of Naira.
“So please our eagle eye is on this revenue platform and we want to monitor it going forward,” he said.
In his presentation, the Accountant General, Idris said that the office was grossly underfunded.
“We are being treated like any other MDA. We know the constraints but we can be better in terms of our ability to meet expectations and needs of Nigerian economy.
“As far as we know, for budget execution, we have only one payment platform which is GIFMIS but for revenue generation, I’m aware that for now, we have Remita and we are trying to bring in more players as far as revenue is concerned.”
On the challenges faced by the Office, Idris said that all the 37 offices were all in dire need of rehabilitation.
“In particular, the Mosaic House in Lagos where the office of the Accountant General was cited before, that office is a huge property that can be utilised to generate revenue.
“It is being occupied by unwanted elements. If it is rehabilitated, it will go a long way in boosting revenue because it is in the heart of the commercial city.”
A member of the committee, Sen. Ayo Akinyelure (PDP-Ondo), said that underfunding of the office could lead to leakages.
“If we want prudency and accountability for the finances of the government, this office must be properly funded.
“If well-funded, they will not be able to engage in leakages collaboration with agencies of government charged with revenue generation.”