NIWA pleads with NASS to be allowed to exit from National budget
The Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr George Moghalu, has the National Assembly for legislative framework that will exit the authority from the National Budget.
Moghalu gave the indication on Thursday while defending his 2022 budget proposal before the Joint Committee of Senate on Marine Transport and House of Representatives Committee on Ports and Harbours/Inland Waterways.
He pointed out that such an exit would provide additional funding for the Federal Government to be able to service other interests especially capital infrastructural development.
Moghalu noted the Authority exited the overhead allocation in 2020 as a deliberate policy drive toward attaining financial autonomy, .
“We are now poised to opting out of the recurrent allocation (comprising both Overhead and Personnel costs) effective from the 2022 Budget, with a view to becoming fully autonomous by 2023.
“Consequently, the Authority in its Year 2022 Proposal accorded priority to the completion of all on-going projects especially those that align with the new policy objectives of Government’s Medium Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) 2021-2025 and Nigeria Agenda 2050.”
Moghalu further explained that exiting the national budget will not in any way remove the regulatory authority of agencies of government.
“Our exiting the national budget does not in any way remove the regulatory authority of agencies of government and even the national assembly oversight functions.
“We can’t stop the national assembly from exercising its oversight functions, we can’t stop the auditor-general’s office from coming to audit us. We can’t, statutorily speaking, do any expenditure outside the budget as approved by the national assembly,” Moghalu.
Speaking for the exit, Sen. Isa Jibrin (APC-Kogi East) said “we want to encourage as many government agencies who want to exit so that at the end of the day, the burden of funding from the government will reduce drastically.
“It is that burden of funding that has consistently made it difficult for government to exit borrowing,” Jibrin said.
A member of the committee, Sen. Smart Adeyemi (APC-Kogi West) said most of the agencies that had autonomy were those where “corruption thrives”.
“NIWA is located in my Senatorial District. There were a lot of complaints against the agency. Agencies are federal government organisations and in all you will do, you must reflect federal character and you must be transparent, even in recruitment.
“I can’t understand where you present a total Overhead of an agency as zero. I have never seen a budgeting system where you have zero overhead.
“I think there is what is called Consolidated Revenue Account where agencies are supposed to remit proceeds.
“If we continue giving autonomy to agencies, you will discover they will spend everything and give you zero.
“If you want Nigeria to move forward, let us do things the way it should be done. Let there be checks and balances,” he said.
On her part, Sen. Abiodun Olujimi (PDP-Ekiti South) said “we are glad you exited 2021 overhead cost. But you are now asking to exit personnel cost. That is very dangerous for you.
“This is because there is no way government will add a penny on an MDA that is fully autonomous.
“We cannot allow you exit everything; you must still be part of the government, because exiting means you are now on your own; and being on your own is very dangerous.
Meanwhile, after the heated argument, Chairman of the Joint Committee Sen. Danjuma Goje (APC-Gombe Central) gave the managing director another date for resubmission of the budget.