Civil society organisations: Transparency International and the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, on Sunday, March 14, berated the N1.4bn budget for meals and refreshments by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in the 2021 fiscal year.
The bodies also accused the tax-collecting agency of insensitivity and misplacement of priority.
A statement issued by the Executive Director, CISLAC, and Head, Transparency International in Nigeria, Auwal Musa (Rafsanjani), expressed shock that such a huge amount could be set aside for frivolities at a time the nation’s economy was in dire straits.
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 the 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 N1.4bn 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.
“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.”
In a similar vein, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Writers Association, Emmanuel Onwubiko, described the situation as depressing and utterly unconscionable.
Onwubiko said, “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 N1.4bn 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 FIRS is yet to respond to these allegations of financial impropriety.
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