Representatives consider direct debit of utility bills from federal agencies
From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The House of Representatives has expressed dissatisfaction with the non-payment of utility bills by ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
The House said on Tuesday it would explore the possibility of the government deducting utility bills from MDAs directly from their accounts.
The Green Chamber instructed its credit and public accounts committees to meet with heads of MDAs to develop a master plan for paying bills.
This followed the passage of a motion by Kingsley Chima on the “need to introduce direct debit for utility bill payments by MDAs”.
Chima, in his main debate, argued that MDAs, under the guise of being part of government, often refuse to pay their utility bills when due.
The lawmaker said this is independent of the fact that utility bills are entered into MDA budgets.
According to him, âInvestigations have revealed that MDAs have great difficulty paying their electricity and water bills; and when they did, they would pay in peanuts after years or months of accumulation.
âWe all know that the government, in its annual budgets, takes these utility bills into account and funds them adequately. Most MDAs even go so far as to defend the payment of these utility bills in their budget defenses; when they actually owe the utility bills to the suppliers. ‘
Chima said there is a need to find a practical way to ensure that MDAs pay their bills without having to pay service providers.
He noted that if MDAs pay their bills promptly, they will in turn pay their taxes to the government on time, thus increasing the government’s revenue base.