Members of House of Representatives in NASS, Abuja, FCT

Legislators frown on government’s losing billions to unremitted funds by agencies

*House of Representatives alleges loss of over N7 billion to under-remittances by NAFDAC

*Insists no agency of government is empowered to spend its IGR

*AGF directs NNPC to refund about N52 billion deducted from Federation Account

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

The Nigerian House of Representatives has said that the Federal Government is losing taxpayers’ money as huge revenue to under-remittances of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) by the government agencies.

According to the Federal legislators, if agencies of government were remitting adequate revenue, the government would have no business resorting to borrowing to finance the country’s budget yearly.

Report indicates that the House of Representatives has directed the Budget Office of the Federation to deduct the balance of such under remittances from allocations to defaulting agencies.

It is not fair to the system for agencies both in the private and public sector to refuse to remit revenue to government, the House noted.

Meanwhile, the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) has also directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to refund about N52 billion it deducted from the Federation Account to the government treasury as operating surplus for 2018.

Hon. James Abiodun Faleke, Chairman, House Committee on Finance, who made the position of the House of Representatives in an interactive session with the government agencies on the 2021-2023 MTEF/FSP frowned on the loss of over N7 billion to under remittances from the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

The House maintained that there is no law that permits any agency to spend money it generates without the approval of the National Assembly (NASS).

It was gathered that the Committee also had discovered a revenue of about N10 billion in the revenue of the agency from which nothing was remitted to the government treasury on the premise that the money was spent by the agency on inspection of factories of clients of the agency who want to either establish a factory or wants to import products.

However, Joseph Ayorinde Aina, Director of Administration and Human Resources at NAFDAC, who represented the Director-General, was said to have claimed that the regulatory agency obtained the permission of the Budget Office of the Federation to spend the money generated through its user fee platform.

But Hon. Faleke remarked: “You are talking about user fees, and that you use it to travel either local or overseas. Don’t you have your overhead budget?

“Don’t you know that under your activities, you are going to travel and that you will present your overhead budget?

“When you are bringing your budget, you know your activities. Every agency is aware of its activities, and one of your activities is that you need to go and carry out inspection which should have formed part of your overhead expenses and government will release the money to you.”

The lawmaker further said: “But the fact that you have a shortfall in releases does not empower you to spend your IGR. No agency of government is empowered to do that. Not even the Ministry of Finance or even Mr. President. It is clear. The president will tell you to go and do it according to the law.

“It is not right that government is losing about N7 billion to your expenditure; N7 billion which should have come to the system out of which you can then draw.

“Tell Madam (Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, NAFDAC Director-General) that we will not take it. She is there to reform the system and we trust that she will do that. But you cannot spend the IGR the way you like.

He added: “If you do that, the accounting officer can be prosecuted, and we as National Assembly will see to that.

“We are not remitting what we are supposed to remit. The private sector will not remit the taxes and you, a government agencies being paid salaries will not remit. Where will the government get money to fund the capital projects when we have deficit budget every year?

“I don’t think it is fair on the system. An agency came here and said they will generate N100 million, but will spend N130 million.”

It was also learnt that Umar Ajiya, Chief Finance Officer of the NNPC, in the Corporation’s presentation, informed the House Committee that in recent times they have been working hand in hand with Revenue Mobilisation, Office of the Accountant-General of the federation, DPR, Inland Revenue, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, and others almost on a monthly basis.

He said the Accountant-General of the Federation has directed the Corporation to refund N52 billion operating surplus to the Federations Account.

The NNPC has already paid about N25 billion of the money, he stated.

Ajiya said: “Our performance over the years is as a result of volume, price and cost.

“In recent times, we have been working closely with the Revenue Mobilisation, office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, DPR, Inland Revenue, Nigeria Governors Forum and others almost on a monthly basis.

“The Budget Office is our primary partner in setting up the budget appropriation document.

“What we have realised over the years is that to the extent that we are OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) members, our ability to produce and sell is curtailed.

“For example, we almost got to 2.4 million barrel production per day before the OPEC meeting came and cut it down to 1.4 million barrel per day. Similarly, the COVID-19 impact has collapsed the price to below cost of production.

Ajiya remarked: “What this tells us is that as an agency of government responsible for oil and gas production, we have to put a watch on the cost. But the cost is our key focus going forward.

“In 2018, the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation charged us as a corporation to return N52 billion as operating surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation and we have agreed on a repayment plan and we have already paid about N25 billion.”

He said what COVID-19 has taught us is that we should be prudent, conservative and watch our cost and that is really our focus.

The current Management of the NNPC has been the most transparent in the history of the agency.

Group General Manager Corporate Planning and Strategy, Meyiwa Eyesan who presented the revenue projection of the corporation said the NNPC is projecting a revenue of N3.54 trillion as its contribution to the Federations account in 2021.

He said for 2022, the NNPC projects to contribute N4.385 and N5.341 trillion for 2023 N5.341 with a flat crude oil price for the period.

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