Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Panic As Probe Of CBN, Other Government Agencies Commences


Nigeria’s top civil servants have, over the years, devised means of ensuring there is enough money from the yearly budget to share. 

This is one of the major reasons for the padding of budgets which was finally blown open at the National Assembly recently 

A probe of some 31 agencies of government has unearthed major infractions for which their heads are to be summoned The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has constituted a committee to recover all unremitted operating surpluses of agencies of government, running into N450 billion in the last five years, Vanguard has reported. 

This is causing serious panic in the affected agencies, it has been learnt. The committee, led by the accountant-general of the federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris, was constituted in Abuja, the nation’s capital, by Kemi Adeosun, the finance minister, to reconcile the operating surpluses of 31 revenue-generating agencies of government for the period 2010-2015.

Some of those to be checked include: the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Petroleum Technology Development Fund, (PTDF), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). 

It is widely held in Nigeria that budget surpluses at the ministries, departments and parastatals are never returned to the government coffers. Such monies are often shared among the heads of the organisations and some politicians. During the administration of late Umar Musa Yar’Adua, a minister was kicked out for allegedly taking part in the sharing of such unremitted surplus.

Kemi Adeosun said, in a statement from her office that findings of the committee have so far shown under-remittance of over N450 billion, which has accrued within the period. The statement added: “Some of these agencies have incurred huge expenses on overseas training and medicals, and huge expenses on behalf of supervisory ministries and/other organs of government involved in oversight or regulatory functions without appropriate approval. 

“Other infractions include payment of salaries and allowances to staff and board members, governing councils, and commissions which are outside or above the amount approved by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC) and the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission. 

The list also includes unacceptable expenses incurred on donations, sponsorships, etc; unfavourable contract signed for revenue collection by a third party; granting of staff loans that have not been repaid as well as sale and transfer of assets to board members, among others.” “The overall effect of these practices is that operating surpluses of these agencies are lower than should be. 

As a result of this, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun has directed the Accountant General of the Federation to issue a circular that will limit allowable expenses that can be spent as part of measures to ensure these agencies face strict monitoring. This development is part of the resolve of the Minister to ensure that leakages are tackled.”

The statement from her ministry said that staff of the office of the accountant-general of the federation have critically reviewed the accounting statements of these agencies and would be inviting their management to explain why their operating surpluses have not been remitted as mandated by the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007. 

The statement quoted sections 21 and 22 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 as guiding the action of government. 

The sections state: “21 (1) The government corporations and agencies and government owned companies listed in the Schedule to this Act (in this Act referred of as ‘the Corporations) shall, not later than six months from the commencement of this Act and every three financial years thereafter and not later than the end of the second quarter of every year, cause to be prepared and submitted to the Minister their Schedule estimates of revenue and expenditure for the next three financial years. 

(2) Each of the bodies referred to in sub-section (1) of this section shall submit to the Minister not later than the end of August in each financial year: An annual budget derived from the estimates submitted in pursuance of subsection (1) of this section; and projected operating surplus which shall be prepared in line with acceptable accounting practices. “The minister shall cause the estimates submitted in pursuance of subsection (2) of this section to be attached as part of the Appropriation Bill to be submitted to the National Assembly. 

“22 (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of any written law governing the corporation, each corporation shall establish a general reserve fund and shall allocate thereto at the end of each financial year, one-fifth of its operating surplus for the year. (2) The balance of the operating surplus shall be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government not later than one month following the statutory deadline for publishing each corporation’s accounts.”

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