By Nicholas Kalu, Abuja
The House of Representatives has resolved to initiate a workable strategic plan to enhance the efficient payment of monthly utility bills of all Ministries, Departments and Agencies by establishing a direct debit system.
The House therefore mandated the Committees on Appropriation, Finance and Public Accounts to interface with the heads of the Ministries, Department and Agencies to this end and report back within eight weeks for further legislative action.
This resolution followed a motion by Uju Kingsley Chima to establish of a direct debit system for payment of utility bills by Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Uju debated that the importance of revenue generation to our national economy cannot be overemphasized, though this is however often overlooked.
He said the motion seeks to expose the fact that almost all government MDAs hide under the umbrella of being part of the government to refuse to pay their utilities bills, as at when due, to the utility providers.
“For instance, investigations have revealed that these MDAs find it very difficult to pay their electricity and water bills; and when they do, they would pay in peanuts after years or months of accumulation.
“Mr. Speaker and distinguished colleagues, we all know that the government in its annual budgets accommodate these utility bills and fund them adequately. Most MDAs even go as far as defending the payments of these utility bills during their budget defences; when they, in fact, actually owe the utility bills to the providers.
“The motion therefore calls for a proper and the most convenient means of ensuring that these MDAs pay their bills without owing the providers.
“Making the collection of the bills easy for the utility providers will in turn make it easy for the providers to play their own role of paying to the government its fees and charges, thereby boosting our internally generated revenue.
“Mr. Speaker and distinguished colleagues, the aim of this motion is to assist the utility providers access a direct debit means of collecting the utility bills directly from sources of government funding, which the office of the Accountant Generation of the Federation will be most competent to achieve,” he said.
The House noted that Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is a major factor in the economic growth of every country and should at least represent 50% of the Gross National Income of an economy of a country to be stable.
They also noted that Section 80(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) provides that MDAs should pay their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) into the Consolidated Revenue of the Federation.
The House said it was aware that the Federal Government also relies on payment of utility bills, like water and electricity bills as a major boost to its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
They expressed worry that the MDAs are often accused of not paying Utility Bills to the bodies responsible for the collection, thereby making it impossible to remit the funds to the government and this has adverse effects on Internally Generated Revenue.