Institutionalisation of surveillance in Nigeria through the Brazilian fiscal responsibility act.
Nigeria ranks among the countries with the highest fiscal indiscipline in the globe regardless of the parameters used. The country has also a weak tax collection system which as a result of tax evasion there is insignificant revenue, thus making the state and the municipalities dependent on federal allocations. As objective of the current study, it is intended to propose the Enactment of a Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) for the Nigerian Public Administration based on the frameworks implemented in Brazil. Thus as a glance, the basic arithmetic that guides the Act is spending must equal revenue. The study is anchored on the premise that the FRA brings innumerable benefits to the populace by stabilizing public spending and paving way for a consistent budgetary forecast thereby contributing to uphold transparency. Methodologically wise, the study adopts a case study approach and also used the interpretative style in order to strive on the action needed, which tends to be interventionist. Upon analysis of the secondary documents at our disposal, we conclude that control tools such as the SIAFEM system which is the backbone of FRA will be an essential artifact to institutionalize surveillance and also assist the Nigerian government in curtailing spending and also orientate accountability at all levels be it federal, state or municipal.

Keywords: Institutionalization, Surveillance, Control Systems, Fiscal Responsibility Act, Nigeria.

Article Type:
Institutional economics (Analysis)
Transition economy (Analysis)
Imoniana, Joshua Onome
Antunes, Maria Thereza Pompa
Perera, Luiz Carlos Jacob
Lima, Fabiano Guasti
Pub Date:
Name: Journal of International Business and Economics Publisher: International Academy of Business and Economics Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Business, international; Computers Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 International Academy of Business and Economics ISSN: 1544-8037
Date: May, 2010 Source Volume: 10 Source Issue: 2
Geographic Scope: Nigeria; Brazil Geographic Code: 6NIGR Nigeria; 3BRAZ Brazil
Accession Number:
Full Text:

Data relating to fiscal discipline, transparency in public administration, if adequately disclosed are indicative of conscious public administration. This is an issue that perturbs all well meaning researchers when describing scenarios in the transition country such as Nigeria. This study forces a reflection upon a FRA case study implemented in the Brazilian environment which was institutionalized and through the exercise of power, inculcated the control culture, thereby reducing abusive spending that used to be in detriment of government plans.


In the Nigerian public administration context, prolonged military rule and rarely challenged and unchanged actors maintained powers in the hands of few people. These people were influenced by so-called contractors whose projects generated over-spending or abusive dispensation of government projects that in turn accumulated inadmissible state debts. Also, there are cases of the rewarding of the cronies, this case sincerely enables the said contractors to execute projects the way they want it in the detriment of the public without being brought to law.

How then is the Nigerian Constitution prepared to guide against this abuse of the public scarce resources apparently reflected in the budget? According to NBNP (2006), in some cases, government agencies like the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), and the Code of Conduct Bureau publish reports of their investigations but since certain public officials are immune of criminal prosecution, the agencies are handicapped. Even though the Constitution assigns roles and responsibilities to the different arms of government in the budgetary process, it does not clarify the role of the various departments in the executive in budget preparation and implementation. This may be partially unfounded if one says that the conceptual and legal framework for transparency is lacking. Therefore, what shows public management efficiency on one hand, may signal a lack of effectiveness, enforceability and accountability on the other hand. As such, based on the aforementioned, we raise the following questions: a) How does the FRA serve as a surveillance tool to provide for the nonchalant attitude of some public administrators that results in Fiscal irresponsibility? b) How does the FRA measure administrative rascality for spending above the revenue in all spheres of the governments? c) What is the control repercussion on the progression of the debts of the municipal or state government? and d) How can the experience (Fiscal Responsibility Act) in Brazil be benchmarked?


3.1 Information Asymmetry in Nigerian Public Administration, any homework first?

It would be wise this time to meditate on the question of the need for homework first before we talk of institutionalization of control through FRA, taking some stands from a research work presented by Apampa & Oni (2005). They mentioned that the main problem of management in public administration in Nigeria is information asymmetry. Thus, one would say that it is a starting point for putting control into place in Nigerian public administration. In so far, same authors evidenced that:

a) macro-economic objectives and projections are rarely circulated to agencies of government and are not made available before budget approval, but rather published after the budget;

b) The fiscal policy objectives and strategies contained in the budget do not include information on how the government intends to attain these strategies;

c) No mechanism that consolidates comprehensive information of fiscal activities of local, state and national governments.

d) Information on extra-budget activities is not available so this makes it easy for government to overshoot projections;

e) Civil society participation in the budget process is weak and the capacity to interact with the public does not exist as information to create this link is never made available.

f) The data in planning, research and statistics departments of various government agencies are not accessible or available;

g) Not all off-budget funds are open to public audit because they fall outside the mandate of the Auditor General.

3.2 Data about the Local Government and State Debts in Nigeria

In the past, corruption in Nigeria has led to government distrust, corroded federal allocations from its efficient dispensation. Moreover, it prejudiced the budgetary compliance and reduction of faith by fellow countrymen.

In other words, inefficient public management which inherited unquestioned planning tools resulted to what President Yar'Adua called 'empty treasury' phenomenon. He continued, "If what I have been hearing from some states is correct, it would seem some of you (Governors) may spend the next four years managing debt. Such a situation is unacceptable" Allafrica (2007).

3.3 Attempt to Implement a Fiscal Responsibility Bill

We are not unique persons to be concerned about accountability in the Nigerian public administration. In 2004 an attempt was driven towards introduction of the bill. It was by then named the fiscal responsibility bill. The bill which was first initiated by the former Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, was very much welcome however, due to time space the project was not taken ahead. She left the government when the ideal was under maturity.

3.4 New Paradigm on Imbibing Fiscal Behaviour

Globalized businesses, stimulated by the Multinational Companies (MNC) transferred their management technologies to the transition economies as a way of contributing to efficiency which in one way or the other have been copied by the national companies. Thus, in order that these companies would operate so as to meet up targets, the public administrators would have to do their part, in other words, reduce taxes. This so far has not been counter-balanced in return for tax paid by infrastructure as a result of immature fiscal behaviour.

The Fiscal Responsibility Act therefore, is meant to redirect governments at all levels to imbibe a fiscal behaviour that will promote prudence and sound financial management in the system. Prudence in the sense that public managers use the public money as if they are using their personal monies, by contracting debts when they know that they would have revenue to offset their bills and not think of living it for the forthcoming regime.

3.5 Institutionalisation of Control through FRA

Institutions consist of cognitive, normative and regulative structures and activities that provide stability and meaning to social behavior. Institutions are transported by various carriers--cultures, structures and routines--and they operate at multiple levels of jurisdiction. The cognitive elements include widely held beliefs and taken-for-granted assumptions that provide a framework for everyday routines.

The normative elements incorporate habits and informally sanctioned social obligations including rulings of legislatures and enforcement mechanisms of the regulatory agencies. (Scott, p. 33, 2001). According to empirical study published by (Imoniana, 2006) there is no rules of thumbs for the customization of control systems. Therefore, considering different cultures and control environments, this does not as yet being given solutions. Thus, best practice such as ISO (2000) would serve as control and surveillance tool and force actors to be cultured for the world standard. Additionally, the success case implemented by the Federal Republic of Brazil if taken as a benchmark would direct Nigeria in the way to resolving a problem that retards economic development.


The methodology chosen for the study was a case study interpretative one. It has an element of interventionist approach into the public administration in Nigeria by adopting the Brazilian FRA.

According to Godoy (1995) the strategy of case study is adopted to give answers to research questions of which there are no much possibilities of control on the phenomenon studied.

In consonance to this approach Yin (1990) states that to use the case study approach, certain items must be elaborated so as to sustain the direction for the investigation process, they are: research questions, study presuppositions, unit of analysis, linking data to presuppositions and criteria for interpretation of data.

Yet according to Walsham (1993): ... Interpretative methods of research start from the position that our knowledge of reality, including the domain of human action, is a social construction by human actors.


The advent of the Responsibility Act No 101/2000, enforced mechanism that permit other spheres of the government to monitor and give punitive measures on the Mayors, Governors and President, who commit fiscal irresponsibility. This emerges another control strategy to manage increase in revenues for the local governments not to talk of stabilization of expenditures.

As per Moura Neto & Palombo (2006) responsibility in the public management means action plan and transparency which envisages equilibrium in the public accounts through compliance with targets and expected results between expenditures and revenue and the obedience to the limits and the stipulated conditions to renounce revenue so as to make expenses and indebtedness by assuming debts, thus generate credit operations, guarantees, etc.

The FRA contains a set of rules with the core objective of committing all tiers of government to a well-defined and structured economic regime which would ensure economic growth and maintain economic stability. It entails: a) Institutionalizing sound and prudent management of public resources; b) Ensuring better coordination of fiscal affairs among the federal, states and local governments; c) Full transparency and accountability in the management of public resources; d) Making government spending fully cost effective.

5.1 Basic Structure of the Brazilian Fiscal Responsibility Act

The responsibility act sets out a general framework for budgetary planning, execution and reporting that is applicable to all levels of government. Through consultations with states and councils, the FRA set general targets and limits for selected fiscal indicators for all tiers of the government administration with specific sanctions for non-compliance, Brazil (2000).

The basis on which FRA is anchored is four fold, being: Planning; Transparency; Control; and Accountability. (i) Planning--in that all should be budgeted for, and all payments appear as scheduled, (ii) Transparency--in that it should appear black and white in the records, and the systems used have to provide for dissemination of such information to the general public in a timely manner through the egovernment. (iii) Control--internal control procedures that provide for checks and balances and monitoring procedures and at the end, leaves an audit trail. (iv) Accountability Answers the question concerning who is responsible, or better say, how is it accounted for by the public managers based on the Law.

The actions for which plans have been draw require for transparency and it is guided by the Law of Budgetary Directives (LBD). In general terms, it establishes the rules for the elaboration of the budget, fiscal targets in which revenues and expenditures are specified including the results in a primary and nominal values stated and in the final analysis debt statement for the period. This directives provides for the review of the previous year forecasts that include its estimations and compensations and also provision for fiscal renounces and a little margin for expansion of emergency expenses.

In terms of actions to renounce revenues by the governors, the FRA has in its Article 14 an indication that, all concession or amplified benefits must be accompanied by an estimation of its impacts covering three year period on financial budget, and must be in agreement with at least one of the following conditions: a) will not affect the fiscal targets already stipulated in the LBD; or b) is accompanied with the compensatory measures by means of increase in revenue, resulting from increase in taxes, elevation on basis of calculation of the current tax and or creation of new taxes.

The act provides for a limit of the creation and maintenance of expenditures. An item of great characteristics in a transition economy is the sum relating to employee payroll or other employee expenses. In case of Brazil, the limit for employee expenses is 50% of the Gross Revenue (Current) on the federal level and 60% on the state and municipal levels. However, in the case of a lesser value in relation to the previous year, the governors are authorized to increase the current spending by 10%.

Another important feature of the FRA is, it fixed a limit for the stock of debt as a percentage of the Current Net Revenue for every sphere of the government, and also as applied to every government entity all over the federation with their maximum limit. While we mention the ceilings and or excess of spending in the government departments, the Federal, State and Municipal governments are prohibited to realize any credit or funding operations internal or externally.

As in Figure 1 below, the construction of the State Budget takes into consideration the FRA as supported by the Budgetary Law (BL) which establishes priorities for the regime.


In this diagram we would observe that for any item to feature in the budget it has to be a problem (electoral promises), say curbing sexually transmitted diseases (Gonorrhea), in this case, the Public Manager responsible for the program should be the Minister of Health in the Federal level. All actions taken (implemented, returns) are within the knowledge of this manager. This program thus, receives budgetary allocations and during its implementation it receives a control and monitoring procedures from the Law of Budgetary Directives (LBD) which is elaborated on annual basis. This in turn is a breakdown of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) which is a Pluriannual Plan that is elaborated every four years. Normally, the government coming into power submits it for appreciation as soon as it is voted in by the end of November, so that it could be discussed by the Congress and be voted. This should be operational by January when the regime starts since it would be the basis for spending. In the State level Governor and legislators of the state also have to pass a balanced budget, the same happens on the municipal level when budgets are passed, all take into consideration the FRA.


If we take for example the yet the Ministry of Health as in our analogy, in Figure 2--there is a Budgetary proposal submitted to de Secretary of Economics and Planning (that consolidates all budgetary proposals) for the Government of Sao Paulo State, for the Secretary of Health in the year 2005. In this case, it has as a Budgetary Unit to implement a government Programme for production of cheap medicines for the poor. It is important to note that indicator that would be used to monitor this programme is the quantity of medicines produced and according to the said proposal the target is 3.000,000,000 units and the amount budgeted is R$ 142,761,751.00

Therefore, all allocations would be recorded into this account, procurements, expenses, salaries, etc. It is important to observe that the public administrators who manages the Budgetary Unit (Cost Center or Call it Result Center) have certain liberty to control their allocations in such a way that all approvals heads towards the compliance of the FRA.

5.2 The use of Information Technology

The brain behind the successful implementation of the Brazilian FRA is the SIAFEM systems. It is an Integrated System for State Financial Administration, large governmental Management Control System developed by the Brazilian Federal Data Processing Services Center (SERPRO) aimed to enhance and also harmonize the control models for the recording of accounting transactions, the budgetary execution, financial and property management in an integrated format, thus reducing costs, increasing transparency, efficiency, effectiveness in the management of public resources. Enhances the availability of the government accounts, accessible to all organizations, be it for internal control purposes, external control, representatives from the House of Assemble or the Federal Audit.

The system is based on the Federal Law no. 4.320, of 17th March 1964 that institute general procedures for the elaboration of financial statements for the, budgetary, execution and control on the federal level, the States and Municipalities. (Fazenda, 2007).

As in the SIAFEM SYSTEM, it requires a decentralized browsing and a direct recording of budgetary unit's transactions without other users' interference. During implementation of the system some officials became very dissatisfied with the new system because part of their knowledge would be inscribed into the SIAFEM processes and they would be left to carry out only unskilled routine tasks Humes & Reinhard (2007).

Upon implementation of the system, data accounting entries were made through the following documents: Appropriation Note (AN), Credit Note (CN), Encumbrance Note (EN), Book-Keeping (BK), Programming for Disbursement (PD), Bank Order (BO) and Receiving Note (RN) when entered updates the SIAFEM directly.

It is imperative to note that all financial resources of diverse origin are deposited into the State Account, Unique Account of the State from which all monies for payment of expenses are withdrawn.


Therefore, as for reflection, four key analytical themes are synthesized from our empirical work, and these are discussed as follows.

6.1 Matching of Budgetary Information with Execution and Control

In Nigeria the budget is classified by programme level line items. Revenue is arranged by type and expenditure allocated by ministry or department; and capital expenditure by sector and programmes. In Brazil it is government programme that takes the lead, be it in case of revenue allocation of type of disbursements and evidently the action programmes for capital expenditures with its controls indicators given as a guide.

6.2 Impact of FRA on the revenue and debts of the States and Local government

In order that one would visualize the detailed effects of the Responsibility Act on the use of the federal and state allocations to the municipalities of Brazil it is necessary to detail the accounting and financial aspects of Income Tax, Service Tax, Property Tax, Rural Taxes, etc. which is not the intent of this paper. Thus, in Table 1 below we bring the figures relating to the compliance of debt indicators.

In Brazil, the 27 states (including the Federal District) and 5,559 municipalities and together account for over one-third of total government spending and revenue collection. States and municipalities also account for almost 40 percent of the public sector's net debt stock. Revenue mobilization capacity is concentrated in the more prosperous states and municipalities of the South and Southeast, and some equalization of expenditure capacity has been pursued through mandated revenue sharing. Political and administrative decentralization are also sizable. Each sub-national jurisdiction has its own directly-elected legislature and executive branches, as well as an independent judiciary. The federal government has limited control over sub-national tax administration; budget formulation, execution, and oversight; and wage and investment policies (Afonso & Mello, 2000)

Thus, analyzing the data about the relationships between Consolidated Debts (CD) and Current Net Revenue (CNR) in the year 2000, the Brazilian States were within the framing of the FRA in their debt limits during the period. In 2001, twenty two states, and in 2002 and 2003 nineteen federal units presented indexes that were in compliance with the legal rules.

6.3 Legitimization of the Actors

In this regards, legitimization of the actors through a consolidated neo-cultural system whereby responsibility is established and compromise determined may be the solution. So to say that lack of compliance would be punished. That is, the legislatures would have to take it upon themselves to enact the FRA bill of which if implemented Nigerian will begin to trust themselves from the examples coming from the government. Something important worth mentioning is, as different from the Bill proposed by the Former Minister of Finance, that concentrated on the Federal level, the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) impacts on the Federal, State and de Local Governments.

6.4 Capacity to implement FRA

In the Brazilian Case, implementation started from the National Congress, by voting the Fiscal Responsibility Act. In effect, the Federal budgets, States and Municipal budget were constructed following the rules of the Act. Thereafter the budgetary execution also followed the same suite.

Thus, one would expect that the same steps be benchmarked from the Brazilian counterparts. What facilitates the implementing procedures is the federal government style that also reins in Nigeria which is seen as a positive factor.

Notwithstanding the legal basis which has to be developed, the IT & IS infrastructure looks ripe enough to house system such as SIAFEM integrated system implemented in Brazil to back government at all tiers to assist in in-building monitoring, control procedures and control cultural barriers.

6.5 Remarks on questions posed

How does the FRA serve as a surveillance tool to provide for the nonchalant attitude of some public administrators that results in Fiscal irresponsibility? With FRA, there is always someone responsible for every transaction (according to the Responsibility Act) imputed into the internal control system and is propagated to all sorts of financial statements.

How does the FRA measure administrative rascality for spending above the revenue in all spheres of the governments? There are punitive measures for noncompliance of the act. They are stringent measures hailing from loss of mandate to confiscation of personal properties. In general, to the extent harm has been made to the public coffins.

What is the repercussion of control on the progression of the debts of the municipal or state government? The repercussion is a great remedy to issues concerning public administrators who make debts for others to pay. Thus, lack of trust on the public administrator in the municipalities that are normally close to the populace becomes thing of the past. This brings a sense of belonging to the public, the investor gains security and the intending ones gaining confidence in the public and the society at large.

Can the experience (Fiscal Responsibility Act) in Brazil be benchmarked? No doubt about that! Brazil went through a similar environment where people were looting the federal coffins. With the implementation of the FRA accountability is being call to place and one (in the federal, state and municipal level) can always prosecute any public official who misuse his office in detriment of the general populace.


As far as in democratic transition economy in which one would expect that the executive decisions acts in the direction of social influence, involving societal voice, accountability reform, enhance fiscal responsibility, propagate social control and sensitize the population as regards internal and external controls, in order not to act contrary to the legislatures, the leaders have to give example, need to take the lead in the compliance with the rules and regulations.

The Brazilian FRA enacted in February 2000 was implemented in such a form that it establishes norms that orientates and bettered the fiscal responsibility and the management of public resources. Within its control mechanisms were contemplated steady increase in revenues to match a continuing creation of expenditures not to mention fiscal renounce of expenses, stabilization of employee expenses and debt limits.

Fiscal Responsibility Act when implemented would discipline public administrators at all levels therefore, this discipline would directly reflect upon the culture of the society that no doubt would begin to reflect on all data that sums up Nigerian classification in Transparency International systems, therefore, it would be able to compete with countries with a reduced risk level arising from administrative bureaucracy.

Finally, if we signal that what remains unaddressed is the political determination, but considering the political scenarios and trends at a glance, one would risk mentioning that the former government has laid a good foundation for FRA implementation. We imagine that the destiny of the country is in the hands of the legislatures and with the hope given by the new government; one is expected that Nigerian has a fertile land to implement such Act.


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Joshua Onome Imoniana, Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Maria Thereza Pompa Antunes, Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Luiz Carlos Jacob Perera, Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Fabiano Guasti Lima, Universidade de Sao Paulo, Ribeirao Preto, Brazil

Dr. Joshua Onome Imoniana earned his Ph.D. at Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1992. Currently he is a professor of Control Auditing and Management of Information Systems of the Pos-Graduation Program in Accountability Science at Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Dra. Maria Thereza Pompa Antunes earned her Ph.D at Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2004. Currently she is a professor of Methodology and Financial Analysis in the PhD Accounting Program at the Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, Sao Paulo, Brazil, where she also serves as Chair of the PhD Accounting Program.

Dr. Luiz Carlos Jacob Perera earned his Ph.D. at Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1998 and did his postdoctoral work at Universite Pierre Mendes France, in Grenoble, France. Currently he is a professor of Capital Markets and Financial Instruments of the Pos-Graduation Program in Accountability Science at Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Dr. Fabiano Guasti Lima earned his Ph.D. at University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2004. Currently he is a professor of Risk Models in Finance and Accountability at Universiadede Sao Paulo, Campus Ribeirao Preto, Brazil.
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