By Gift Chapi Odekina
The House of Representatives on Tuesday moved to make compulsory payment of utility bills by Ministries Department Agencies and parastatals.
This came under a motion moved by Rep. Kingsley Uju during plenary in Abuja.
According to Uju, there was an urgent need 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 almost all government MDAs, hide under the umbrella of being part of government to refuse to pay their utilities bills, as at when due, to the utility providers.
“This motion 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 government its fees and charges, thereby boosting our internally generated revenue.
“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.
” It is not out of contest to state without equivocation that over 100 countries of the world run their economies relying on 90% of their internally generated revenues. Only a few rely on less than 50% of their internally generated revenue for sustenance.
“Our Internally Generated Revenue if properly harnessed will be a major catalyst in the overall annual budget performance of our country and therefore act as a buffer to our over reliance on Oil as the major source of our Gross National Income.
“it can also be argued that harnessing from our untapped internally revenue generation will assist our lagging economy and hence reduce our continuous thirst for external borrowin.
” We all know that 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 was therefor referred to the relevant committee.