Udoma Udo Udoma
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma
  • Recommends indicted agencies for prosecution
  • Governors to take position on subsidy next month

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The National Economic Council (NEC) Thursday in Abuja adopted the audit report presented to it by KPMG which revealed that revenue generating agencies, notably the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), did not remit N526billion and another $21billion to government.

Briefing journalists at the end of the monthly NEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in the State House, the governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwabo, said KPMG presented the concluding report of technical audit of 16 revenue agencies which he said showed that the country was shortchanged by N526 billion and $21 billion that those agencies failed to remit to the federation account.

Dankwabo, who said the audit report was the outcome of the responsibility assigned to NEC’s Ad-hoc Committee which he chaired, added that the committee recommended the refund of the under-paid amount by the agencies to the federation account.

He also said NEC adopted the recommendation of the committee that where criminal acts had been discovered in the agencies’ actions, the same should be referred to the legal arm of NEC and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) for prosecution.

He also said the council would ensure that the governance structure of the NNPC was strengthened to avert a repeat of such “gross under-remittance” by the agencies in future, pointing out that whereas the audit only covered the period of 2010 – 2015, NEC Thursday resolved to extend the audit to June 2017.

“Council adopted the presentations and reports of the KPMG and the recommendations of its Ad-hoc Committee including a resolution to identify instances where there appears to have been criminal infringements and forward such to the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Legal Committee of the National Economic Council for further action.

“Council resolved to pursue strengthening of the NNPC governance structure to prevent further recurrence of such gross under-remittance by the NNPC and other revenue generating agencies,” he said.

Dankwabo listed the agencies audited to include NNPC, Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Internal Revenue Service, Nigeria Petroleum Authority (NPA), ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and maritime agencies.

Also speaking, Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola, said the council commended the courage of the president and vice president in ensuring the probe of federal government agencies, saying such action promotes transparency and the anti-corruption efforts of the administration.

In his own briefing, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, said he briefed the council on the just concluded Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) focus labs which he said “were conducted successfully and the outcomes presented to the public last Tuesday, May 15, 2018.”

According to him, the labs identified 164 projects to be spread across the six geopolitical zones of the country adding that the outcome of the labs showed that over 500,000 jobs could be created by 2020.

He also said more labs would be conducted in due course in other sectors of the economy and states had been encouraged to adopt the same model.

Answering questions on whether the council discussed the issue of subsidy being paid on imported petroleum products which was deliberated upon in the governors’ meeting with the vice president on Wednesday, Zamfara State governor, Abdulaziz Yari, said NEC would take a decision on subsidy being paid on fuel next month.

He insisted that the claim of 60 million litres daily fuel consumption by NNPC and the huge subsidy being paid on refined products by the corporation was unacceptable and must be redressed.

“Yes, the item was brought up for discussion but it was referred back to the sub-committee remittances which I chair. We are doing the nitty gritty with NNPC in terms of remittances. Don’t forget that the reason we got it right in 2016 on the NNPC side was because the oil prices were too low.

“It was easy for everyone to get fuel into the country and then make his profit. So, when the price started jacking up, then the marketers started adjusting back because they needed to have a template on cost recovery and how they are going to make up the difference from the pump price to the landing cost of what they are importing.

“Our problem is the volume, the quantity of consumption which is not acceptable. In working with the governors, so many decisions were taken but by next month, we are going to adopt a position either for the governors to take responsibility for the subsidy in their states based on the consumption or we look at other ways.

“For instance, if you say we pay N800 billion subsidy, you will ask, who are we paying the subsidy to? And if you look at infrastructure development and capital budget of the federal government, it is about N1.1 trillion, almost 70 percent of what you are spending to develop the economy.

“If there is no infrastructure development, then you cannot talk about development of the economy. N800 billion is a huge amount that we must look at it, who is benefiting from it? So, we are coming up with a strategy. We are going to meet in the month of May and June. In the next meeting, we will definitely come up with a position of the government at both levels on volume of what is being brought into the country and what the state and federal governments collaborate to check,” Yari said.