© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Nigeria not fiscally transparent – US
The United State of America (USA) has classified Nigeria amongst countries not fiscally transparent.
The classification was contained in a report released by the U.S Justice Department on Thursday.
According to the report cited by The ICIR, the Department’s fiscal transparency review is the process of assessing whether governments meet minimum requirements of fiscal transparency such as budgeting process, including it contracting and licensing processes in the extractive industry, did not meet the standards required of the American government.
The U.S. said the report did not assess corruption, but that lack of fiscal transparency could encourage corruption.
“A finding that a government ‘does not meet the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency’ does not necessarily mean there is significant corruption in the government. Similarly, a finding that a government ‘meets the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency’ does not necessarily reflect a low level of corruption,” the report said.
The report, called the 2019 Fiscal Transparency Report, covers January 1 to December 31, 2018.
One Hundred and Forty-one countries (141) assessed on the fiscal transparency are countries that receive U.S assistance.
Seventy-four of the 141 governments met the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency, while 13 of the 67 that fell short of the standards made “significant progress”, the report said.
Nigeria is not among the 74 that met the minimum requirements and also not among the 13 adjudged to have made significant progress.
Some of the African countries classified alongside Nigeria are Egypt, Ethiopia, and the Gambia.
Gabon, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Togo, Tanzania, Sudan, South Sudan, Niger, Mozambique, Mali, Lesotho, and Cameroon are also among the African countries whose governments failed the U.S transparency assessment.
While non-African countries that failed to meet the American government requirements include: China, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Ukraine, Yemen, Burma, Pakistan, etc.
For Nigeria, the Justice Department said, “During the review period, the government made its executive budget proposal, enacted budget, and end-of-year report accessible to the general public, including online.”
“The executive budget proposal and the enacted budget, however, were not published within a reasonable period of time. Information on debt obligations was publicly available. Budget documents provided detailed estimates for revenue and expenditure but did not include allocations to and earnings from state-owned enterprises.”
“The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation did not have fully audited financial reports that were available to the public. The government maintained off-budget accounts not subject to adequate oversight or audit. Due to oil price fluctuations, actual revenues and expenditures varied significantly from estimated figures making budget documents unreliable. “
“Nigeria’s supreme audit institution completed audits of the government’s budget and reportedly made audit reports on its website. The criteria and procedures by which the national government awards contracts or licenses for natural resource extraction were specified in law and regulation.”
“The government has appeared to follow applicable laws and regulations in practice. Basic information on natural resource extraction awards was publicly available.”
The report said, for Nigeria’s fiscal transparency to improve, the government must take the following actions:
- publishing its executive budget proposal and enacted budget within a reasonable period of time,
- detailing allocations to and earnings from state-owned enterprises,
- improving the reliability of budget documents by producing and publishing a supplemental budget when actual revenues and expenditures do not correspond to those in the enacted budget,
- making full audit reports for significant, large state-owned enterprises publicly available, and
- subjecting off-budget accounts to adequate audit and oversight and making information on such accounts publicly available.
The U.S DOJ said the report was done with inputs from international organisations and civil society organisations.