The Federal Government has taken a bold step to boost science and engineering infrastructure development.
It has invoked the section of the Act establishing the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) prescribing how it should be funded.
The section, which has been observed in the breach for 29 years – since the establishment of NASENI – will now become operational following President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive.
The President has ordered the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to remit the levy turnover of commercial companies to the agency.
The deduction of the levy affects commercial companies with N100million turnover.
According to NASENI Establishment Act 2004, a quarter per cent of the levy on turnover, collected by the FIRS, should be remitted to the agency.
The letter to the FIRS followed a meeting of the Governing Board of NASENI on January 26, presided over by President Buhari in his capacity as the chairman of the agency’s board.
The meeting reviewed a December 30, 2020 presentation of its Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Prof. Mohammed Sani Haruna, on the need for compliance with the establishment law of the agency.
Haruna requested the implementations of the Statutory funding of the Agency as provided for in NASENI Act to finance its projects and activities.
After the session, President Buhari directed Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, and the FIRS to release statutory funds due to NASENI to it forthwith.
In a follow up letter to FIRS dated February 8, the Presidency demanded immediate compliance with the presidential directive.
The letter to the Executive Chairman of FIRS by Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim A. Gambari, reads in part: “I write to inform you that on 24th January 2021, Mr. President approved the prayers of the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) on the funding of NASENI activities.
“In accordance with the NASENI Establishment Act, one of the prayers of the EVC relates to the funding of the agency via a levy on income or turnover of commercial companies and firms with turnover of N4million (later increased to N100million) by the NASENI Governing Board) at the rate of a quarter per cent( 1/4 %) of turnover.
“Accordingly, you are kindly requested to act on the implementation of this provision of the NASENI Act as soon as possible.”
A source in the Presidency said: “The President only took steps to make history by enforcing what is in NASENI Establishment Act. In the last 22 years, successive administrations have not complied with the Act because of politics.
“The agency has been going cap-in-hand to the government for funds to execute science and engineering infrastructure. You can appreciate why we are lagging behind many nations in science and technology.
“The Governing Board has been impressed with the innovations and products of NASENI despite its lean resources. If the Act is fully implemented, the agency will do better.”
NASENI was established by the National Assembly Establishment ACT, 2004 CAP N3 Laws of the Federation (formerly Decree 1992 Decree of ex-President Ibrahim Babangida’s Military regime)
(2) The funding mechanism for the Agency is stipulated under Financial Provisions; PART VI, Section 20 of the ACT. It states thus:
(1) The Agency shall establish a fund from which shall be defrayed all expenditure incurred by the Agency for the purpose of this ACT.
(2) There shall be paid and credited to the fund:
(a) 1 per cent of the Federation Account in the first instance, to be increased to 2 per cent by the year 2000.
(b) Levy on income or turn-over of commercial companies and firms with turnover of N4 million and above, which shall be-
(i) At the rate of quarter per cent in the first instance:
(ii) Collected by the Federal Board of Inland Revenue or by any other suitable means as may be specified by the Agency; and
(iii) Credited to the account of the Agency.
(c) Contributions from the organized private sector;
(d) Foreign aid and instance from bilateral and multilateral agencies;
(e) Fees charged for services rendered by the Agency;
(f) All sums accruing to the agency by way of gifts, endowments, bequest or other voluntary contributions by persons and organizations.