Agencies withheld N1.7tn in remittances
Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
Despite generating N15.5 trillion between 2012 and 2016, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) recorded a deficit of N3.1 trillion, with its expenditure put at N18.6 trillion in the period under review.
This was revealed in the interim report of the Senate Ad hoc Committee on alleged misuse and under-remittances of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), by revenue generating agencies of the federal government. The report, which was laid before the Senate last week, would be considered this week.
The committee, headed by Senator Adeola Olamilekan (Lagos APC) also found that the 93 agencies refused to remit at least N1.7 trillion, to the coffers of the Federal Government in the same period. This is out of the total sum of N21.5 trillion which they generated.
The 32-paged report accused the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) of under-remitting N86.6 billion into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) despite generating N789.1 billion, while the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) failed to remit the stipulated 25 per cent of its generated N335.6 billion amounting to N83.9 billion.
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), was found to have shortchanged the federal government of N33.8 billion after it had generated N455.5 billion in the period under review, while the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) under remitted N5.6 billion, out of the N56.8 billion it generated.
The Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) was found to have shortchanged the government of N184 billion.
The committee discovered that most of the agencies withheld their financial records from the officials of the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation, in contravention of section 125, subsection (3) a (i and ii), subsection (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The agencies, the committed observed, however complied with a directive contained in a memo with Ref. No. BO/RVE/12235/259/VII/201 by the former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, â€œto remit 25% only from the revenue generated and use the remaining 75 per cent as part of its expenditure.â€
The directive, the committee said, is violation of the constitution and the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
Its recommendations include that â€œthe Senate should amend the laws where necessary to make it mandatory for all revenue generating agencies to accommodate resident Auditors to be posted by the Auditor General of the Federation that will have access to all financial records and books, and to ensure compliance with section 120(i) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
â€œThe Fiscal Responsibility Act should be amended in a way to compel all agencies and institutions of government on compliances with financial regulations regarding income generation, accounting and remittances.
â€œThe Senate should also amend the laws where necessary to make it mandatory for all revenue generating agencies to accommodate resident Treasury Officers to be posted by the Accountant General of The Federation that will have access to all financial records and books.
â€œThe National Assembly should direct the immediate stoppage of the implementation of the contents of the Memo by the former Minister of Finance and Agencies and institutions should adopt the new mode of remittances as approved by the Senate.
â€œThe Fiscal Responsibility Act (2007) should further be amended to make all revenue generating agencies to pay 30 per cent of their income generated monthly to the Consolidated Revenue Account before any expenditure etc.â€
It should be recalled that the committee which was constituted in November 2016 submitted the interim report last week, after its Chairman, Olamilekan was publicly queried by Senate President Bukola Saraki on two different occasions at plenary, regarding the delay in conclusion of the investigations.
Saraki, had stated that the outcome of the investigation is necessary as it would provide a leeway into the workings of the 2018 national budget.