The Nigerian Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun on Thursday disclosed that the Federal Government would soon issue a new template on approved expenses for state-owned enterprises as efforts are being intensified to control the nation’s recurrent expenditure.
The Minister gave the hint at a workshop on Cost Management on Overhead Expenditure for Permanent Secretaries, Chief Executive Officers of Departments and Agencies, in Abuja. The Efficiency Unit, under the Federal Ministry of Finance, organised the workshop.
The Minister pointed out that the Federal Government needed to create headroom to be able to invest in capital projects. According to her, there is need to control recurrent expenditure, especially overheads, a drive which she said necessitated the creation of the Efficiency Unit by the Presidency in 2015.
The Minister said government is determined to plug all loopholes which are currently encouraging revenue losses, explaining that in a bid to make state-owned enterprises productive and accountable, the Office of the Accountant-general of the Federation is working on a new template to determine what are allowed or disallowed expenses for state-owned enterprises.
She stated, “We will also be improving the level of disclosure, that is even when transactions are done. We noticed funds are really leaking through a loose framework. At the moment, the Accountant General of the Federation is working on a new template to determine what are allowable or unallowable expenses for state-owned enterprises.
“There will be a requirement for certain transactions to be disclosed in the audited financial statements of state-owned enterprises, so that there will be transparency around certain areas where clearly money is leaking.”
Giving the details of the new plan, the Minister said “The days when cost to income ratios of 99.9 per cent was the norm are over. We have secured technical support from IMF with the state-owned enterprises template.”
The Minister lamented a situation whereby state-owned enterprises from other countries come to bid for contracts in Nigeria, whereas some of the home-based ones are not that productive in terms of income generation.
She stated, “We have observed that many state-owned enterprises in other countries actually come to Nigeria to bid for contracts. Many of the Chinese companies, are actually state owned, why will Nigeria’s state owned enterprises be cost centres? That is no longer acceptable and we are going to correct it. The results we are looking for, as the Head of Service has said, are an entrepreneurial and innovative public service that will serve Nigeria and form the foundation for our future and collective well-being.”
The Minister challenged accounting officers to be alive to their responsibilities, saying they will be held responsible for any infractions going forward.
“I want to remind you that being accounting officers is not just a promotion or a title. It is actually a huge responsibility and we are going to be taking it seriously. “You are accountable where public funds are spent and we are building systems to ensure that everybody that is in charge of public budget is held accountable.
Eliminating waste is a national duty for every public officer and as the President has told us, change begins with me.
“Every amount that we save by controlling overheads is being redirected to investment in power, in roads, in rail and in housing and those investments will revive our economy, create jobs, and reduce the cost of living for Nigerians.
“I want to urge you, please don’t just sign. When it comes to public money, yes is an answer. No, is an answer. Why is an answer.
Convince me is also a valid answer. I urge you to be your own auditor. Be circumspect, be curious. In fact, be suspicious because we will hold you accountable for whatever happens while you are doing your work,” she stated.