Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja
Eighteen Federal Government’s revenue generating agencies failed to remit N526bn and $21bn into the Federation Account between 2010 and June 2015, an audit commissioned by the National Economic Council has revealed.
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, has therefore recommended that the affected agencies be made to refund the money.
Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of a meeting of the NEC presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Wednesday.
The council chaired by the Vice-President has all state governors, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and relevant ministers as members.
Dankwambo explained that the shortchanging by the agencies was detected by an audit firm, KPMG, which was contracted by the NEC to carry out a forensic audit of revenue remittances to the Federation Accounts by the NEC.
The governor listed the government agencies indicted of underpayment by the audit report to include the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and the Nigerian Communications Commission.
Others are the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Department of Petroleum Resources and the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, among others.
Apart from refunding the money, Dankwambo said a sub-committee would be set up to look into the details of the infringement.
He said those found to be criminal in nature would be handed over to the Attorney General of the Federation for action.
The governor said, “KPMG presented the report of the technical audit of RGAs, concluding that a total sum of N526bn and $21 bn was underpaid to the Federation Account.
“NEC’s Ad-hoc Committee which I head with members including governors of Edo, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, Lagos states and the finance minister recommended refund of the amounts underpaid.
“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 the strengthening of the NNPC’s governance structure to prevent further recurrence of such gross underpayment by the NNPC and other RGAs.”
The governor said it was resolved that the audit period is extended to June 2017.
“One of the resolutions of NEC is to extend the audit to June 2017. So the audit will continue for the remaining agencies.
“It is NNOC, NPDC, DPR, Customs, Federal Internal Revenue Services, NPA, Maritime Authorities, all the revenue generating agencies and the details of the infringement are contained in the report. It is a voluminous report; there are a lot of items that are there.
“The most important decision that was taken is that a sub-committee will be set up which will be an arm of the legal committee of NEC that will look into the details of these kinds of infringements and make sure that those issues that are criminal and require prosecution will be handled by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.”
Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, said the issue of whether states should henceforth determine how much is paid as fuel subsidy and not NNPC came up at the meeting.
He, however, said a final decision on the matter would be taken at the next meeting.
He said, “We are doing the nitty-gritty with the NNPC in terms of remittances. Don’t forget that the reason we got it right in 2016 on the NNPC side was that the oil prices were too low. It was easy for everyone to get fuel into the country and then make their profit.
“So, when the price started jacking up, then marketers started adjusting back because they needed to have a template of 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. Working with the governors, so many decisions were taken but by next month, we are going to adopt that 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 paid the N800bn subsidy, you will ask who are we paying the subsidy to? And if you look at the infrastructure development and capital programme of the Federal Government, it is about N1.1trn, almost 70 percent of what you are spending on developing the economy.
“If there is no infrastructure development, then you cannot talk about the development of the economy. N800bn 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 months of May and June. By next meeting, we will definitely come up with a position of the government at both the level of volume of what is being brought into the country and what the state and federal governments collaborate to check.”
Adeosun reported to the council that the balance in the Excess Crude Account as of May 14, 2018, stood at $1, 830, 682, 945.30.
She also reported to Council that the current balance in the Stabilisation Account as of the same day stood at N15, 725,456,963.83.
She put the balance in the Natural Resources Development Fund at N116, 104,644,763.39.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, gave an update to council on the just-concluded Economic Recovery Growth Plan Focus Labs.
Udoma told members that the Labs identified 164 projects spread across the six geopolitical zones of the country.
He said the outcome indicated that over 500,000 jobs were likely to be created by 2020 and that more labs would be conducted in due course for other sectors. (Punch)