Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the House of Representatives yesterday grilled officials of the Ministry of Water Resources over a 2013 N30 million counterpart funding for the African Ministerial Conference on Water (AMCOW), and a N20 million unremitted internally generated revenue.
The committee led by Hon. Kingsley Chinda (Rivers PDP), cited the 2010 to 2013 report of the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAGF) which raised 18 queries in the expenditure of the ministry in the audited period.
The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mrs. Rabi Jimeta, explained that the ministry was constrained by low budget personal performance, and therefore not able to release the whole appropriation for the counterpart funding to the development partners.
Only the sum of N19.3 million was released in 2013, she noted, and admitted that an incomplete release of financial obligations hampers full implementation of development projects.
In this instance however, Nigeria’s counterpart fund was for the maintenance of AMCOW secretariat which is based in Abuja, she disclosed.
“The budget performance in 2013 was 65.7 percent. N30 million was appropriated, and N19.3 million was released,” she said and added that the Ministry is currently working to ensure it meets up 100 percent of its financial obligations to its development partners.
Jimeta, however could not provide satisfactory explanations concerning a query raised over a N4.9 million given to some staff between January and December 2012.
The committee in June 2016 had directed that the former Permanent Secretary and Director of Finance of the Ministry be contacted to appear, and explain what the money was for.
She told the committee that all efforts to get through to the former Permanent Secretary and Director of Finance, and the beneficiaries of the ‘curious’ expenditure could not be reached.
Chinda however raised objection to her response, and after some entreaties, directed that their last known address be provided to the committee.
The committee also raised issues with some cars which were purchased, for which details of transactions were not made available.
The permanent secretary admitted that the receipts and files on the transactions cannot be traced, even though the cars are still in use by some officials of the ministry.
The lawmakers were unsatisfied with the explanations and queried whether the cars are being used without documentation.
The officials were directed to return on November 22,2016 with all requested documents.