House to Investigate BPE for Violation of Fiscal Responsibility Act

  • C’ttee queries NIMASA over N66m extra-budgetary spending

Damilola Oyedele in Abuja

The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) for various infractions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007, including the failure to provide audited accounts for the financial years 2012-2015, and non-remittance of its operating surplus of N81.8 million in 2007.

The House said the action of the BPE violated Section 22 (1) and (2) of the Public Enterprises (Privatisation and Commercialisation) Act, 1999 which compels the Bureau to keep proper records and cause them to be audited by auditors appointed from the list and in accordance with the guidelines supplied by the Auditor General of the Federation.

It therefore mandated its Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation to organise an interface with the BPE on the allegations, and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.

The resolution followed a motion sponsored by Hon. Abbas Tajudeen (Kwara APC) who accused the BPE of a lack of probity, transparency and accountability.

“A grievous breach of the law for many years by an essential government organisation like the BPE has exposed the failure of the Auditor General of the Federation to live up to his constitutional duties of auditing public accounts to ensure accountability, transparency and fiscal responsibility,” he said.

Abbas added that the objectives for the establishment of the National Council on Privatisation and the BPE to restructure moribund and under-.performing public utilities to benefit present and future generations of Nigerians cannot be realised since the BPE has not kept regular financial records of its operations.

“…and can therefore not be trusted with overseeing the huge financial operations of commercialisation and privatisation of public enterprises,” he added.

In another development, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has queried the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for extra budgetary spending to the tune of N66 million in 2008 and 2010.

The unauthorised expenditure was discovered in the 2010 report of the Auditor General, with the recommendation that the money be returned to the federation account as the purpose of payment was hazy.

The 2010 report accused NIMASA of making separate payments amounting to N41.2 million to companies and individuals without due process, and another N25 million to one company for unclear reasons.

The agency however explained that the N25 million was donated as part of its corporate social responsibility, to the National Chamber of Shipping (NCS).

Appearing before the Hon. Kingsley Chinda ( Rivers PDP) led committee, the Director General of NIMASA, Mr. Dakuku Peterside, however, could not provide documents to back the expenditure despite the explanation.

Peterside added that some of the payments were used to settle the companies and individuals for services rendered.

The Deputy Chairman of PAC, Hon. Ibrahim Baba, who presided over the meeting directed that the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, to explain the rationale behind the unauthorised expenditure.

He also directed that Peterside re-appears at a yet to be determined date, with documents that prove the services rendered, proof of payments, bank statements and appropriations between 2006-2010.