The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, has declared that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has done well in the fight against corruption by introducing a number of fiscal reforms, including the full implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), Bank Verification Number (BVN) and the Whistleblower Policy, among others.
While the Whistleblower Policy was initiated by the present administration, TSA, IPPIS and BVN were started under former President Goodluck Jonathan but not fully implemented until the emergence of the Buhari’s government.
Speaking at the weekend in Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State while being conferred with an honorary doctorate degree (D.Sc) by the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ahmed said: “To boost Nigeria’s ranking in the area of transparency and good governance, the Buhari administration signed onto the global open government partnership (OGP) and in December 2019 launched the transparency portal.”
A statement issued by her spokesman, Mr. Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi quoted the minister as saying that through this initiative, ministries departments, and agencies (MDAs) are expected to publish their daily transactions for the public to assess, adding that “we are beginning to see improvement in our fiscal rating as a result of these deliberate actions by the government.”
Highlighting the priorities identified at the inception of the second term of the administration, Ahmed stated that they included building a thriving and sustainable economy, enlarging agriculture output for food security and exports, attainment of energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products, expansion of transport and other infrastructure development and expanding business growth.
Others are entrepreneurship and industrialisation, expanding access to quality education, affordable healthcare and productivity of Nigerians, enhancing social inclusion and reducing poverty, building systems to fight corruption, improving governance and creating social cohesion, as well as improving security for all.
According to Ahmed, some of the early results of the ongoing reforms and initiatives include the fastest passage of the annual budget thereby returning the country to January-December fiscal year, adding that it was “something we have not experienced in over 20 years.”
She stressed that the signing of the Finance Act, 2020 is a major catalyst towards fiscal reform.
The minister also listed some challenges being addressed by her ministry as the perennial revenue shortfalls.
“We have developed the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative (SRGI) which has three thematic areas such as: Achieve sustainability in revenue generation; Identify new and enhance the enforcement of the existing revenue streams; and Achieve cohesion in the revenue ecosystem (people and tools).
“The overall aim and aspiration of the SRGI is to improve government revenue generation, as it is expected that the initiative will help government to increase its revenues by exploring new revenue streams, especially from non-oil sources. It is meant to help reduce cost of governance and block leakages,” she stressed.