Transparency International, Others Condemn FIRS N1.4 Billion Refreshment Budget - IReporteronline
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Transparency International, Others Condemn FIRS N1.4 Billion Refreshment Budget

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Several civil society organisations have condemned the N1.4 Billion budget for meals and refreshments by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in the 2021 fiscal year.

The groups, including Transparency International and the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, accused the tax-collecting agency of insensitivity and misplacement of priority.

According to the Citizen NG, Executive Director, CISLAC and Head, Transparency International in Nigeria, Auwal Musa (Rafsanjani), expressed shock that such a huge amount could be set aside for such frivolities with the situation of the nation’s economy.

He said, “While the nation struggles hard to finance its budget, a significant proportion of the budget slips through mismanagement and reckless spending that intrinsically dominates public sector activities.

“It is more worrisome that the reckless spending has been normalised with a resultant underfunded critical sector that is vital to efficiently revamp the sinking economic development.

“Given this background, the decision of Federal Inland Revenue Service to spend N1.4 billion on meals and refreshment in 2021 is another irresponsible financial decision by a revenue institution preying on weak budgetary process and scrutiny, poor financial management system and inadequate legislative oversight activities associated with the public sector.

“It is more worrisome that despite the under-funded critical sector with increasing cost of governance, FIRS has not devised appropriate tax justice system to ensure social justice and equity in the utilisation of remittances to ensure citizens benefit maximally, but requesting a whopping sum to be lavished on irrelevant activities.

“We must be wary of reckless financial decisions that manifest in institutionalised mismanagement and revenue deficiency. This must be thoroughly checked by relevant authorities as common Nigerians are currently suffering from questionable mismanagement of public treasury and high cost of governance by successive administrations.”

He added: “While efficient governance is about ensuring that each amount of public funds is spent judiciously in a way that social welfare of all the citizens is maximised, the current high cost of governance that permeates Nigeria’s public sector impedes socio-economic development and shows negative impact on macro-economic stability, job creation and other socio-economic activities that drive growth and development.”

Also speaking, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Writers Association, Emmanuel Onwubiko, described the situation as depressing and utterly unreasonable.

He called for an investigation into the activities of the agency which he described as a cesspool of massive corruption.

Onwubiko said, “At a time of massive unemployment, mass poverty and high crime rates caused by lack of capacity on the part of the security forces and particularly the Nigeria Police Force that has collapsed due to poor funding, corruption and indiscipline, it is shocking that an agency of the Federal Government can set aside the sum of N1.4 billion for them to feed and make merry all year round.

“The Federal Inland Revenue Service has always been a cesspool of filth and massive corruption going by the antecedents of that agency with the immediate past head of that agency and many directors facing criminal prosecution for stealing several billions of naira from the public treasury, so this revelation of a budget of N1.4 billion for meals is a continuation of the heritage of corruption in the agency. This is shameful and must never be permitted.

“There is the need for a clean sweep in that agency because it is clear that corruption is deeply rooted and needs surgical action to eradicate this social menace.”

The convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, equally condemned the proposal.

He said, “This act of cruelty against the Nigerian people must not be allowed to be swept under the carpet. We cannot allow a few persons in our apex revenue-generating agency to get away with this attempt to defraud the nation.

“They must be told in no uncertain terms that they cannot take Nigerians for granted. The staff of this agency are very well paid to do their jobs; it does not make sense for them to swindle the nation using budgetary subheads. We will petition the EFCC and the ICPC to probe the leadership.”

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Naira Closes Week Stronger To The Dollar

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Naira closed the week stronger to the dollar after four days of trading at the I&E window of the foreign exchange market.

Naira had opened the week weaker to the dollar after Tuesday’s trading at N410.50, but on Friday data posted on the FMDQ Security Exchange where forex is officially traded showed naira exchange at N409.00.

Friday’s exchange rate represents a 0.16 per cent appreciation from N409.65, the rate at which the naira closed on Thursday.

Similarly, forex turnover increased week on week increase from $35.55 million on Thursday last week to $55.21 million.

Although Friday turnover represents a drop by 41.07 per cent, from the $93.69 million posted on April 8th.

Market participants during Friday’s trading bid for dollar between N395.00 and N420.00.

In the unofficial market however, the naira remained unchanged against the U.S. dollar according to data posted by abokiFX.

The data posted showed that the naira closed at N485.00 at the black market on Friday, the same rate it exchanged hands since the start of the month.

At the end of Friday’s trading the difference between the unofficial market and the I&E window exchange rate stood at N76.

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Why Nigeria Can’t Stop Borrowing – CBN

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The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has insisted that Nigeria can’t stop borrowing, mainly when it’s necessary.

Mr Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor, disclosed this in Abuja on Friday at the National Dialogue on Nigeria’s rising debt profile, titled: “The Rising Public Debt in Nigeria and the Challenges of National Development,” organised by the Action Aid Nigeria (AAN).

Emefiele, who was represented by Dr Tawose Joseph, the Assistant Director, Monetary Policy Department, CBN, said there is no crime in borrowing.

According to him, there should be monitoring and evaluation of the money borrowed and its purpose.

This is coming as AAN and stakeholders have expressed fear over unbalanced borrowings levels, rising national debt profile and increasing poverty level under President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.

He said, “Debt is part of fiscal responsibility. Debt is never a crime or a sin. The private entity also borrows to survive. What matters most is the debt’s quantum and the debt usage as well as if money is borrowed as a result of the shortage of income generation.

“When you compare the income and expenditure, and it is efficiently used, it is part of government responsibility. But where the fear is when it is above the threshold.

“CBN understands that when there is a crisis in an economy, then the burden of debt would be something. That is why the conventional and non-conventional instruments are there to ensure price stability in the economy.”

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Aisha Buhari Rakes N155m At Book Launch

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Wife of the President Mrs Aisha Muhammadu Buhari Thursday realised N155 million at the public presentation of a book titled, “Aisha Buhari: Being Different.

 

The book, written by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Administration and Women Affairs, Office of the First Lady, Dr Hajo Sani, was launched at the State House Banquet Hall in Abuja.

 

National leader of All Progressives Congress (APC) Mr Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu bought copies of the book N20 million while Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu bought copies for N30 million and N25 million, respectively.

 

Mrs Folorunso Alakija and Chief Kessington Adebutu bought copies for N10 million each while representatives of Alhaji Muhammadu Indimi and Captain Idahosa Okunbo donated N20 million each.

Mrs Bola Shagaya and the representatives of Arthur Eze donated N10 million each.

 

The chairman Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state, and Deputy Senate President, Mr Ovie Omo-Agege pledged an undisclosed amount of money for copies of the book.

The event was jointly organised by the Office of the First Lady of Nigeria and the Women and National Development (WAND).

 

Meanwhile, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has extolled the virtues of wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, saying she has redefined the role of the office of the First Lady of the country.

 

Speaking at the public presentation of the bookOsinbajo said, the First Lady has endeared herself to Nigerians by stepping outside the box of what used to be the personage and traditional roles in Nigeria’s presidential history.

He said she has also regaled Nigerians with many firsts, including keeping Nigerians updated with the activities of her office or how she feels on an issue via the social media outlets and connecting with the public in real-time.

 

“She’s, of course, the First Lady to be on Twitter, on Instagram, and other social media platforms, getting her unfiltered views across to the Nigerian people and she’s probably the first to receive, in real time, the opinions of Nigerians on her views. With her views, forthright, crisp, truthful and once in a while controversial, she has established an ongoing conversation with the Nigerian people.”

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