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FISCAL COMMISSION CHIEF PLEDGES NEW REVENUE FORMULA

By NBF News
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FORMER Minister of State for Finance and newly appointed Chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) Elias Mbam, has assured that a new revenue sharing formula for the country would soon be produced to meet the yearnings of the three tiers of governments.

He also declared that the Commission under his leadership would ensure that all Federation Account generated revenue are pooled into the account for the purpose of transparency, equity and fair play for the benefit of all tiers of governments.

Mbam spoke at the inaugural sitting of the newly constituted Commission in Abuja yesterday.  The Senate had on November 16 screened and confirmed Mbam's nomination as chairman of the RMAFC along 20 other federal commissioners. Their tenure took effect from December 1, 2010.

Addressing the press shortly after the inaugural plenary session of the Commission, Mbam explained that the issue of the controversy surrounding jumbo perks for political office holders did not form part of their deliberations, as they were meeting for the first time and needed to be briefed by the management of the Commission for guidance.

He, however, announced that a decision for the establishment of two important committees, namely: for the drafting of a new revenue formula for the federation and that of revenue base diversification were adopted for prompt action.

'But we have quickly adopted a proposal to create a standing committee on a new revenue sharing formula to provide a draft to the president who will in turn forward it to the National Assembly because constitutionally, the sharing formula should be reviewed every five years. We want to be fair and just to all Nigerians.

'We have also created a committee on revenue diversification aimed at broadening our revenue generating base as well as tightening the loose ends to ensure that every kobo generated by all the agencies are paid into the Federation Account for equitable distribution to all the stakeholders.

'To kick-start our operations, we shall fine- tune existing policies and strategies and evolve new ones aimed at ensuring a federal revenue system that will increase overall volume of the financial resources available for distribution to the three tiers of government. We shall be concerned more on how to increase the size of the 'National Cake' rather than dissipate all our energies on how to share a shrinking 'cake.'

'We shall in the next few days embark on a retreat to further familiarise ourselves with our responsibilities, brainstorm on some progress and achievements recorded by the Commission and develop a roadmap for the actualisation of the visions of the Commission,' Mbam further said.

Earlier, attempts by the immediate past Chairman of the Commission, Hamman Tukur, to evolve a new revenue sharing formula for the country to replace the current one had failed.

The Commission claims that the bill was quietly withdrawn by the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.

The states are believed to be grieving about the development. Only recently, during a visit to the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Edo State Governor, comrade Adams Oshiomhole openly canvassed for the review of the existing revenue formula in the country in favour of states because of the enormous challenges at that tier of government.

He also alleged that the Federal Government was not sincere and transparent enough with the management of the Federation Account with regards to returns by revenue generating agencies.

Under the current revenue distribution framework, the Federal Government gets 52.68 per cent as statutory distribution from funds accruing to the Federation Account, the states get 26.72 per cent, while the local governments receive 20.60 per cent.

The balance of 13 per cent is allocated on the basis of revenue derivation to mineral producing states.

But Oshiomhole, while expressing displeasure with the arrangement, said the way in which the Federation Account was being managed had made it difficult for people to accurately determine how much the country makes each month.

His words:  'We believe that the Federation Account is not being properly managed. I am not particularly satisfied about the way it is being run, the system has been abused and I will continue to say that the Federal Government is not being transparent about the management of the Federation Account and I have no apology for that.

'How do we explain a situation where we do not know how much we make as monthly revenue and every month, we have a situation where one person at the centre says this is what we make as revenue for this month?'