By Peter Usman//:
Senate has exposed how some federal government agencies like the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC;
Nigerian Port Authority, NPA and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, among others failed to remit over N2 trillion operational surplus into the Federation Account just as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN and Charted Institute of Taxation, CIT claimed that the unremitted fund might be in the tune of N3 trillion.
This is coming at a time when the country is having a deficit budget of N5.2 trillion.
Though the chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Adeola, who revealed this when the Minister of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed appeared before the panel at the weekend, did not categorically mentioned the agencies involved, but the NNPC, NPA, NIMASA, etc are big spenders among the government agencies.
According to Adeola, the Office of Accountant General of Federation has confirmed development to the committee, lamenting that the Office is not firm in collecting the operational surplus hanging in the affected agencies
He said: “We discovered that 10 government owned enterprises which we have identified in the beginning of trying to bring these government owned enterprises and subsequently increasing to about 50 to 60 GOE.
“The reconciliation done so far by the Office of Accountant General of the Federation is in excess of over a trillion naira going to like N2 trillion thereabout and these monies are still hanging in the hands of these agencies and we have asked the Office of Accountant General that what are they doing to get the money into the government coffers and we discovered that they are given them a payment notice without necessarily following up this process.
“We have noticed that the so called 80 percent of operational surplus we are reference to many of these agencies proved frivolous expenditure and they have taken advantage of the current system and refuse to remit this amount as at when due.
“We try to audit the account of these agencies year in year out for the past five years and some of the revelations are scary. How do we explain that an agency of government that has provision in the budget for capital, overhead and personnel in their audited account, they have gross revenue of N500 million and they are asking for N200 million.”
Adeola further revealed that the investigation has also led to the willing exit of some agencies, notably among them NAFDAC, NIGCOMSAT, NOTAP and NIREC, from the budget of the government while relying on their generated revenue to fund aspects of their operations, adding that this will reduce their dependence on federation budget and assist in reducing budget deficits.
However, ICAN and CIT claimed that over N3 trillion of generated revenue of the government may be trapped with MDAs or already spent on frivolous expenditures contrary to the 1999 Constitution and the Fiscal Responsibility Act, FRA, 2007.
In her response, the minister commended the committee for the ongoing probe of revenue remittances as she acknowledged that in recent times, there has be noticeable increase in revenues from agencies to the Consolidated Revenue Funds, CRF as required by the law, adding that the executive arm of government are also scrutinizing the application of the template of calculating and deducting operating surpluses by agencies of government to ensure that the right amount are paid.
Also, the Director General, Budget Office, Ben Akabueze clarified that the issue of operating surpluses does not apply to any government agencies that are fully funded by the government as all revenue generated by such agencies must be paid in full into the CRF, adding that it is illegal to spend a dime of such money without appropriation by the National Assembly.