The Senate yesterday ordered the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to reappear before the Red Chamber on Tuesday and explain why N2.3trillion generated as revenue in the 2019 fiscal year was not remitted to government coffers.
DPR only remitted a meagre N44.5billion into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) out of N2.4trillion generated.
The revelation was made at the ongoing interactive session on the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) organized by the joint Senate committee on Finance and National Planning. Trouble started when the joint committee chairman, Senator Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos West), demanded for records of the agency’s internally generated revenues in 2019 and projections for 2021.
DPR’s Head of Planning, Mr Johnson Ajewole, who represented the director, Engr Sarki Auwalu, said a total of N2.4trillion was generated by DPR in 2019 but only N44.5billion was remitted into the consolidated revenue fund.
Dissatisfied with the wide gap in what was realised and remitted, the committee members described the development as unacceptable.
Efforts made by the Head of Finance and Accounts of the agency, Mrs Lilian Ufondu, to explain the wide gap in revenue and remittance further angered the committee members.
According to her, out of the N2.4trillion generated by DPR in 2019, N88billion was removed as 4 per cent collection fee out of which N5.72billion was also remitted, while the balance was used for overhead cost of the agency.
Ufondu couldn’t provide the details of the overhead costs despite probing questions from the lawmakers.
She added that as at July this year, DPR generated N1.13trillion and projecting N3.4trillion as revenues generation for 2021, out of which N139billion will be taken out as 4 per cent collection fee.
Angered by the submissions and the apparent disjointed presentations, the committee consequently ordered that the agency should reappear before it unfailingly on Tuesday next week and must be led by its Director, Sarki Auwalu, who was said to have traveled abroad.
The committee chairman said, “Information and records presented to us by both directors and heads of departments that have spoken are not clear and insufficient as regards budget performance of DPR within the last three years and revenue projection for 2021.
“For this committee to do proper and thorough job, comprehensive records of such budget performances must be made available latest by Monday next week, upon which your director and other top management staff will appear before us again on Tuesday next week.
“Also, well detailed proposals for revenue generation by the agency for 2021-2022 must be included in the expected comprehensive records”.
Efforts by journalists to make the agency’s head of Finance and Accounts, Mrs Ufondu, explain her inability and that of her counterpart on Planning, Ajewole, to make satisfactory submissions before the committee, proved abortive, as she lamented that the day was a bad one for her and DPR.
“I’m sad and it is a bad day for us. We are told to come back and we shall return on Tuesday next week “, she lamented.
Like DPR, heads of other revenue-generating agencies like Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Bank of Industry (BOI) and Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) were absent at the interactive session and were accordingly ordered by the committee to reappear on Monday next week.
While NIWA’s boss was said to have traveled abroad, those of BOI and SON were said to be either indisposed or hospitalized.
When the Senate committee chairman asked of the hospital the Director-General of SON, Osita Aboloma, was being attended to, from the director of Budget, David Okon, who represented him, he simply said, “I don’t know,” throwing everybody in the meeting hall into feat of laughter.
LEADERSHIP Weekend reports that the interactive session is being organized to find ways of shoring up revenue-generating capabilities of agencies of government in order to fund the proposed 2021 budget deficit, as well as reduce deficit.
…To Move Revenue Agencies Into Consolidated Account
Also, in a bid to block wastages of revenue generated for the Federal Government, the Senate has begun steps to move revenue generating agencies into a Consolidated Revenue Fund Account.
The chairman, Senate committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Adeola, gave the hint yesterday at the public hearing on the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), in Abuja.
He spoke after the presentation of the director-general of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Mallam Yakubu Muhammed. At the hearing, the Nigeria Inland Waterways Agency disclosed that it collected N1.4bn, N1.7bn but returned N364m and N428m for 2018 and 2019, respectively.
For 2020, the agency said only N798m had been generated with N128m remitted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senator Adeola, representing Lagos West, lamented that revenue generating agencies were collecting so much but remitting little to the federal government.
“Our mood is to move all revenue generating agencies to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Government will take the revenue and pay for cost of collection,” he said.
The panel was angry that the NTA only remitted a paltry sum of N1.6bn into the federal government purse for 2019 despite government paying its staff salaries and overhead cost.
Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi (APC Ekiti North) said it made no sense to give an organisation more money when it was supposed to be generating revenue for the government.
“The share of advertising declared for 2019 was N79bn, how could NTA remit only N1.6bn?” He queried.
The panel also quizzed NTA for not declaring profits made from its partnership with StarTimes, a satellite TV service provider.
“If you are operating a below the line account, it is unknown to government. Any expenditure not declared in the document is fraud,” Adeola added.
The panel ordered NTA to supply names of all its debtors, amounts and who gave the approval at the next sitting, just as it threatened to publish the lists.