President Goodluck Jonathan
•Imoukhuede chairs panel to verify 2011 subsidy claims
By Obinna Chima
The Ministry of Finance Saturday sacked the accounting and auditing firms of Akintola Williams & Co and Adekanola & Co, for failing to exercise due care in the audit of fuel subsidy claims they performed on behalf of federal government in the management of the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF).
The ministry had engaged the firms a couple of years ago to verify documentations and claims submitted by oil marketers and importers so as to ensure that only genuine claims were paid.
Coincidentally, the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee which probed the management of the subsidy scheme had also blacklisted the firms in its final report, recommending a ban of three years for the companies for complicity and failure to do what they were hired to do.
A statement from the Ministry of Finance announcing the sack of the firms reads: “Concerned about the management of the subsidy regime, the Federal Ministry of Finance has for the last two months been reviewing aspects of the implementation of the subsidy regime related to its functions.
“The review has produced a lot of useful details on what was wrong with the system and what needs to be done to ensure improvement going forward.
“The review process kicked off in February when the ministry and relevant government agencies held a meeting with bankers and marketers at the instance of President Goodluck Jonathan.
“This was followed by a subsequent session with the accounting and auditing firms to re-evaluate their work.
“Based on the review, the ministry has taken the following steps: the services of the audit and accounting firms responsible for certifying the documents and claims of marketers before payment have been terminated. The companies are Akintola Williams and Co and Adekanola and Co.”
In addition, the ministry set up a committee made up of credible and experienced persons from the private and public sector with strong technical component under the chairmanship of Mr. Aigboje Imoukuede, Group CEO of Access Bank Plc, to examine the claims of payment arrears for 2011 currently being made by marketers.
“This is to ensure that only genuine claims are honoured,” the ministry stated.
It added that it is also finalising a new and more effective system to replace the current arrangement and, in this regard, a second committee has been set up to propose a good way to forward.
Based on other outcomes of the review, the ministry stated that it will take further actions as necessary.
The finance ministry also gave notice that the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) has put on hold further depletion of the Excess Crude Account (ECA).