By Udora Orizu
The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts on Monday summoned the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed; Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze; and other officials of the Ministry of Finance to shed light on duty waivers granted to some companies.
The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Wole Oke, issued the summon at the ongoing investigative hearing on audited accounts of government ministries, departments and agencies and some private companies in Abuja.
Oke said that the DG Budget and the minister should appear before the committee within seven days to clear the air on the duty waivers granted to Saipem Contracting Limited on N468 million worth of equipment and other items it imported into the country.
He said: “Why can’t we ask the minister and the DG to give us a comprehensive list of waivers granted these companies within 14 days. We should also invite the beneficiary companies that got waivers. I want to see these items and the value of the duties paid on them.”
Fielding questions from the lawmakers, Mr Melvin Daje, who represented the Managing Director of Saipem Contracting Ltd, said that they pay their duties directly to the equipment manufacturers.
He also told the committee that Saipem is an indigenous oil servicing company that is involved in oil facilities servicing with major oil producing companies in Nigeria.
He said that the company had been involved in the oil business for over 50 years and that they engage in importation of oil servicing equipment from all countries of the world.
The committee also grilled the management of Crocodile Matchet Ltd on their duty payments and other issues
A representative of the managing director of the firm, Mrs Ehi Osezuah, however said that they had not done importation for a long time.
Oke, who had earlier noted that some of the invited companies had submitted that they have import duty exemption, however demanded that the invited companies avail the committee the description of imported machines, value of invoices and country of importation.
He directed the Clerk to write the Federal Ministry of Industry, Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigeria Immigration Service on the issues that pertain to their respective operations on the matter.