Representatives outrage as agencies avoid MTEF hearing

The House of Representatives has expressed dissatisfaction with the failure of many government agencies to appear before the Finance Committee for interaction on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) 2023-2025 , preparatory to the 2023 budget.

Saidu Abdullahi, Deputy Chairman of the House Finance Committee, expressed the sentiment of lawmakers as the panel resumed in Abuja on Wednesday.

Abdullahi said parliament will not accept government agencies ignoring invitations to appear before it and explain what they have done with the revenue they have generated and the projections for the next financial year.

Several agencies that were scheduled to appear before the committee since the start of the fiscal year on Monday failed to appear while those that did did not submit the required document to lawmakers.

Agencies include the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which was denied by the committee until the Governor appears in person; Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Police Trust Fund and Nigeria College of Aviation Technology, Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited and Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, Oil and Gas Free Zone.

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The others are: Federal Ministry of Electricity, Electricity Regulatory Commission of Nigeria, Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading, Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board, Niger Delta Power Holding Company, Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency, Transmission Company of Nigeria, Galaxy Backbone PLC, Nigerian Electricity Liability Management Company, Nigeria Export Import Bank, Nigeria Port Authority and Nigeria Shippers Council.

In addition, only four of the 12 agencies that were due to appear before the committee on Wednesday came, but they were turned away for poor preparation and presentation of the MTEF on which the annual budget is prepared based on revenue and expenditure projections.

The committee chairman, further disapproving of the agencies’ attitude, said: “We made it clear yesterday that we are normally expected to be on vacation, but due to the fundamental importance of this exercise, we have canceled our vacation to undertake this national mission. It is very unfortunate that while we are making this sacrifice, the agencies are not showing up as expected.

“The National Assembly will not take this lightly with the agencies. It is a call to national duty. We do not understand why they should hesitate to meet the responsibility imposed on them.

“It should be noted that all invited agencies must introduce themselves. Otherwise, we will rely on the power given to us by the constitution to hold them accountable. This apathy is not acceptable to anyone and we will not accept it.

“We have agencies that are highly irresponsible. If this country is not working today, let it be there so Nigerians know it is on the shoulders of MDAs. We invited them for this very important exercise, but unfortunately most of them showed apathy. We don’t know what they are afraid of, but it is a question of responsibility.

“If you willingly accepted the call for duty, I don’t understand why you should hesitate to take responsibility. So know that we have agencies that are highly irresponsible. The responsibility to make this country work rests with the National Assembly and the executive. We are doing our part, but unfortunately we are not getting what we expect from the agencies”.

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