By Chimezie Godfrey
Nigeria’s Fiscal Responsibility Commission has received support from the International Monetary Fund, IMF, in the area of capacity development.
Following the approval of the Honourable Minister of Finance, Dr Zainab Ahmed, the IMF deployed a Mission to support the Fiscal Responsibility Commission in establishing a Fiscal Monitoring Framework.
The Mission, led by Sybi Hida, a Senior Economist in the Fiscal Affairs Department of the IMF in Washington DC, spent two weeks with Management and technical staff of the Commission during the intensive programme.
Delighted at the significance and content of the programme, the Chairman of Fiscal Responsibility Commission, Victor Muruako said of the IMF support, “We have come to the conclusion that amongst all manpower development support and interventions that the Commission has enjoyed since its establishment over a decade ago, this IMF Mission is certainly the most impactful, combining elements of strategy meetings, organizational self-discovery sessions, training and ecosystem development. This is, literally speaking, the template which the Commission never had at its inception.”
He recalled that, at inception, the Commission was handed a novel mandate without corresponding templates, guidelines, handover notes or depth of access to requisite manpower development. Hence, the staff, being pioneers in the fiscal responsibility monitoring and enforcement space, found themselves doing the work of both visionaries and operators.
“Oftentimes,” he added, “the scenario looked like we were building an airplane while at the same time, flying it. Thank God, we have been successful at both.”
Muruako lamented the fact that in spite of the many achievements of the Commission, it still encounters stakeholders that appear to be finding it difficult to understand where and how to accommodate the Commission in the public finance management ecosystem. He affirmed that FRC is a fiscal reform organization that has had to use hard work and integrity to break through the fog and deliver on its mandate, which is unique and not a duplication of any other agency’s as assumed in the report of the ‘Orosanye Panel.’
Reflecting on the phases that the Commission has passed over the years, the FRC Chairman noted that the Fiscal Responsibility Commission has been very well received by citizens and the Federal Government alike since its establishment over a decade ago.
He posited that the use of legislation to moderate the behavior of fiscal agents and replace discretionary powers with fiscal rules, ceilings and timelines is reckoned in all decent circles as most proper for a fiscal environment that has suffered considerable abuse.
Accordingly, the Chairman of Fiscal Responsibility Commission, Victor Muruako appealed to the National Assembly to conclude the amendment of the Fiscal Responsibility Act which went through Public Hearing in the Senate over a year ago, pleading that it would place the Commission in a better position to support fiscal policy sustainability and straighten public finance management in Nigeria.
The recent support by IMF to fiscal responsibility commission is the second mission to the Commission this year alone, the first being a one-month training of over thirty FRC senior staff delivered virtually by IMF’s AFRITAC II. It was that capacity building programme that formed the basis for the latest intervention.