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New Revenue Formula: RMAFC fails to beat deadline

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By Abdulwahab Isa

The anticipation that   a new revenue sharing formula will be ready by end of the first quarter this year turned a mirage as the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) said yesterday it was unrealistic, citing   security and national challenges in the country.

The Commission’s Chairman, Engr. Elias Mbam, who disclosed this yesterday during a question and answer session when he played host to top officers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), led by its Comptroller-General, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde, cited security challenges confronting the nation as its greatest obstacle. He however did not give detail of those challenges.

“Yes, it’s true that we should have a new revenue formula ready for presentation to the President at the end of first quarter.  It’s also true, that I said all things being equal, but unfortunately, you know very well that we have had many challenges, including national challenges”, Engr. Mbam stated.

The Commission had embarked on the process of producing a new formula it says will be reflective, balanced and productive to replace the subsisting one which gives the Federal Government 52.68 %, states 26.72% and local governments 20.72% from the Federation Account.

Mbam said evolving a   revenue formula is a sensitive issue that must not be politicised, adding that, the commission was very conscious of that and is  very careful in all its actions and in- actions.

Explaining further, the RMAFC boss said, “Even the budget was moved from December to March.  There are so many other challenges which you know as much as I do.    We have a lot of challenges if you don’t know I can give you the details of subsequent happenings.

“I said at the end of the quarter, I will brief you on the progress so far, but it may be difficult to assure you that it will be available in a weeks’ time. But I can assure you that I will brief you on the progress so far and we have really made progress”, he further stated.

“We don’t want to start by shouting.  There will be a lot of work behind the scenes because the issue is very sensitive; the issue has a lot of implication on the unity and progress of this country and we are conscious of that and we are very careful in all our actions and inactions.  We don’t want to be joined in  that politics ; we want to retain  our image as an unbiased umpire that will be fair, free, devoid of any political consideration in terms of politics of any section of the country”, Mbam declared.

The setback for the new revenue formula comes as the Comptroller-General of Customs declared the services’ monthly revenue has hit N80 billion from a paltry N30 billion it was generating monthly in 2009.

He hinged the tremendous improvement in revenue generation on transparency culture enthroned in the system and the automated system introduced.

Inde   said he was visiting the commission to solicit it’s support, especially against the backdrop of several of its bills pending before the National Assembly.

“If you look at the trend of the Customs before 2009 when we took over, the average revenue collection was N30 billion a month, but today, with the effort of the management of the Nigerian Custom Service, they adopted a fully automated system which block many of the revenue leakages and that has increased the revenue collection to almost N 70 to 80 billion a month now.  I want to inform the commission that we need its support, the support we need is political; not because we are on uniform but because we took it in the best interest of this nation”, Inde said.

The Customs boss   exonerated the Service as one of the revenue generating agencies that allegedly withheld funds from the  Federation Account  that  ,  created insufficient funds  thereby stalling  the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC)’s  bid  to approve monies for sharing to the three tiers of government  last week.

He said Customs has a tradition of remitting to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) whatever it generated on daily basis latest by 6.00 pm each day.

“The issue does not affect Customs.  I want to assure you that today 6, o’clock the revenue collected are remitted to the CBN. So, we don’t waste time in terms of revenue collection. We reconcile on e-basis and my reconciliation between the CBN, commercial does not take five minutes” he affirmed.

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