Twenty revenue-generating agencies have allegedly defied the Federal Government’s order to refund their unremitted revenue amounting to N450 billion.
A committee was set up in November 2016 to see to the recovery of the fund that was unspent by the agencies. Some of the agencies were accused of over budgeting, budget replication, and poor implementation of allocated funds as well as deliberate manipulation of the budgeting process for official infractions.
Others simply held on to the revenues they generated and spent from such revenues without proper accounting procedures, it was revealed.
The committee was headed by the Accountant General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris.
But almost a year into the committee, it is being alleged the committee had not sat or presented its report neither has any of the agencies had been reported to have complied.
Several weeks of investigations by our correspondent however proved negative compliance by all the agencies indicted as none as at the time of going to press had refunded its unspent budget or surplus revenue.
The agencies which the Ministry of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, through a press conference announced had failed the financial transparency regulations and ordered to refund the unspent budget and operating and revenue surpluses were the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC), Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
Others were Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), National Pensions Commission (PenCom), Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET), Raw Material Research & Development Council (RMRDC) and Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Nigeria Postal Service (NPS).
The rest were the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), National Information Technology and Development Agency (NITDA) and Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), National Agency for Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF).
According to Adeosun, the expected refunds would have added to the N272.03 billion that had been generated between the periods as part of the projected N1.5 trillion revenue targets from such sources for the year.
The refund followed the auditing of 33 government agencies’ accounts from 2010 to 2015, with 20 found to have defaulted in remitting an operating surplus.
The Idris committee was tasked with recovering the fund, as well as initiating bilateral discussions and undertaking impromptu visits on revenue agencies, going forward.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 (FRA) was designed to provide guidelines and controls to elicit greater accountability and transparency in fiscal operations.
Unfortunately, the minister noted with regret that “actual compliance with the provisions of the Act has been poor resulting in revenue leakages as confirmed by our audit findings including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Shippers Council, Nigeria Export Promotion Council, and National Health Insurance Scheme”.
According to the minister, the schemes the agencies adopted to bypass and cheat the federation thus breaching the FRA provision were non–remittance and under-remittance of operating surpluses due to the CRF; operating without an approved budget; overstating of budgets and spending above budgeted amounts; under reporting of revenues; making payments without invoices and absence of payment receipts, and failure to retire cash advances.
Other areas listed were granting loans and grants to parent companies without prior approvals; poor book keeping; failure to reconcile accounts and existence of irreconcilable differences; lack of fixed asset registers and sale of assets to staff; fixed asset register not updated with all items purchased; and purchase of fixed assets directly from internally generated revenue; among others.
When our correspondent tried to enquire from the committee and these agencies if they had complied, the chairman of the committee could not be reached. But the Director of Information in the Office of theAccountant General of the Federation, Mrs. Kene Offie, despite repeated calls and text messages did not respond to any enquiries. When our correspondent visited the office, both Mr Idris and Offie were said to be out of office.
But a source in the OAGF said he was aware of the committee but could not say if the committee had sat since being set up or any agency had refunded the unspent fund.
The Director of Information, Ministry of Finance, Mr Salisu Danbatta also could not be reached while a reliable source in the ministry said he could not comment on the matter as he was not authorized to speak. He also denied knowledge of the committee’s sitting or if any agency had complied with the federal government’s order.
The source pointed out the order may have been forgotten and buried, adding, “It is a good thing you are probing and asking. Otherwise, government’s money would just disappear. That is how they do.”
When our correspondent visited theNational Pensions Commission (PenCom), the head, corporatecommunication, Mr Emeka Onuora, was said to be busy to attend to anyone. He did not answer his calls either.
It is not clear if the agencies would be referred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as Adeosun had said.
Source : Independent