Budgeting: Senate Seeks To Merge Finance Ministry, Planning Commission

In the aftermath of the budget crises between the executive and the National Assembly over the 2013 Budget, the Senate has moved to reduce the role of the federal Ministry of Finance in the budgeting process.

A federal lawmaker, Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, on Thursday, sponsored a motion which would make budget making a joint responsibility of the Budget Office and National Planning Commission.

He said the current annual incremental, envelope based budgeting being used by the Ministry of Finance is arbitrary and inimical to growth.


Senator Adetunmbi who moved the motion at the plenary session, called for a review of the country’s budgeting process and that the National Planning Commission should be involved in the budgeting process.

He said the current national budgeting process makes the legislature less involved and at best reactive, a motion some lawmakers agreed to.

The Senate President, David Mark said other government agencies have usurped the role of the National Planning Commission.

The Senate mandated its Committee on National Planning and Finance to review the current national planning and budgeting linkage and recommend amendment to the relevant laws.

 

N42.666 billion paid to oil marketers in 4months-Finance Ministry

The federal government has again restated its claim that indicted oil marketers are behind the industrial action being embarked by the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers, (NUPENG).

The union has stopped the delivery of petrol to the FCT in protest over the alleged non-payment of subsidy claims causing severe fuel shortages in the nation’s capital.

But the Federal Ministry of Finance in a statement on Friday stated that the federal government has already paid out the sum of N42.666 billion in subsidy claims between the months of April – August this year to ‘genuine oil marketers.’

The statement which sought to apprise Nigerians on key developments in the management of fuel subsidy payments, claimed that “marketers with legitimate and unencumbered claims have been paid and will continue to be paid.”

Giving a breakdown of the payment made so far, the statement revealed that:

-Between April and May 2012, Batches D/12 and E/12 involving 14 oil marketers with a claim of N17 billion were fully settled.

– In addition, since early July 2012, N25.6 billion worth of claims have been fully settled.

– In all, between April – August this year, in respect of 2012 PMS claims, N42.666 billion have been paid to 31 oil marketers.

Affirming that the fuel scarcity in Abuja is a ploy by the indicted marketers to provoke Nigerians against the government, the Ministry of Finance alleged that “it is clear that those behind the strikes are marketers being investigated for possible fraud.”

“These elements have now resorted to hiding behind the unions to unnecessarily antagonize government and create hardship for Nigerians” the statement adds.

Companies under investigation for fuel subsidy fraud

The statement further revealed the names of 20 companies that are currently under-going investigation based on their indictment by the Presidential Committee on Fuel Subsidy Payments led by Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede.

According to the Ministry, the companies are been investigated “based on evidence that they may have engaged in fraudulent activities under the fuel subsidy regime.”

The report of the committee recommended that the oil marketers must refund various amounts to the national treasury.

1. ALMINNUR RESOURCES LTD

2. BRILLA ENERGY LED

3. CAADES OIL AND GAS LTD

4. CAPITAL OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY LTD

5. CONNOIL PLC

6. DOWNSTREAM ENERGY SOURCE LTD

7. ETERNA PLC

8. EURAAFRIC OIL AND GAS LTD

9. LUMEN SKIES LTD

10. MAJOPE INVESTMENT LTD

11. MATRIX ENERGY LTD

12. MENON OIL AND GAS LTD

13. MOB INTERNATIONAL SERVICES

14. M.R.S OIL AND GAS LTD

15. NASAMAN OIL SERVICES LTD

16. NATACEL PETROLEUM LTD

17. OCEAN ENERGY TRADING AND SERVICES

18. PINNACLE CONTRACTORS LTD

19. SIFAX OIL AND GAS COMPANY

20. TONIQUE OIL SERVICES LTD

Less indictment

The Finance Ministry also noted that there are other oil marketing companies with less severe cases to answer, adding that “these (companies) are in discussion with government for a quick resolution of their issues.”

Explaining the terms under which funds owed these companies will  be sorted out, the statement said, that oil marketers under investigation for possible refunds to the government, will have their 2012 outstanding claims “netted out against their expected refunds to government and those with a positive net balance, i.e outstanding claims greater than expected refunds will be processed and paid.”

“For marketers with a negative balance with government, i.e they owe government more in refunds than government owes them, the Aig-imoukhuede committee will accelerate review of their documents after the Sallah break so that their claims can be processed and settled, if cleared, without further delay.”

“For others that may not be in the above categories but who have other issues or claims, their claims will also be attended to with the same despatch.”

In conclusion the Ministry of Finance vowed to investigation the alleged role of the oil marketers in the on-going crisis stating that “we want to make it clear that Government will fully investigate their activities and if found guilty, bring them to book and recover all public funds fraudulently obtained, in the guise of fuel subsidy claims.”

“No degree of blackmail will stop the Government from doing its work. Government will, therefore, pursue justice and ensure that those who are found guilty are appropriately sanctioned” it concluded.

FG blames indicted oil marketers of orchestrating planned strike

The Federal Government has alleged that oil marketers planning to embark on a nationwide strike action are those who have been indicted by the Aig-Imoukhuede’s report on fuel subsidy payments.

Long queues have emerged at petrol stations in the FCT.

The allegation was made in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Paul C. Nwabiukwu, on Wednesday, which claimed the federal government has stopped paying the indicted oil marketers.

The statement said “it is clear that the strike was instigated mainly by marketers who were indicted by the Aig-Imoukhuede Committee which investigated fuel subsidy payments.”

The statement further said that the federal government has stopped payments of oil marketers that were penciled down for investigation “However, the claims by marketers who have been recommended for further investigation by the Aig-Imoukhuede Presidential Committee have not been paid”.

The statement also called on Nigerians not to be deceived “by their antics”.

It also highlighted the federal government’s zero tolerance to corrupt persons and organisations.

“The Federal Government is determined to ensure that persons and organisations which did the wrong things do not get away with wrong actions and wrong behavior”.

Corroborating the claim, Minister of state for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama said that a total of N42 billion has been paid to 31 one oil marketers as subsidy payments.

“In all, between April and August this year, in respect of 2012 PMS claims, Sovereign Debt Notes amounting to N42.666 billion have been issued to 31 oil marketers”.

The minister was speaking after the monthly Federations Account Allocation Committee meeting in Abuja.

Dr. Ngama said that the intention of the indicted oil marketers is to blackmail government and avoid sanctions on crimes committed.

He further stated that the sum of N522 billion is to be distributed to the Federal, State and Local government areas for the month of July.

 

Economic Council orders establishment of state and local disaster management units

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has been directed by the National Economic Council (NEC) to help state and local governments put in place emergency management units to manage disaster before the arrival NEMA.

Governor of Ekiti, Dr Kayode Fayemi, made this known while briefing State House Correspondents on the outcome of the monthly meeting of the council in Abuja.

He said the directive was prompted by a presentation made by the Director-General of NEMA,  Mohammed Sani Sidi on the need to decentralize the functions of the agency to local and state governments.

Fayemi, however, maintained that the establishment of SEMA and Local Emergency Committees (LEMCs) by state and local governments respectively would provide effective and speedy disaster management in the country.

“The Director General of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) briefed Council on steps that are being taken to provide effective and speedy disaster management in Nigeria and the role and relationship between NEMA and various State Emergency Management Agencies, particularly in terms of clarifying the laws backing State Emergency Agencies and ensuring that all States are encouraged to set up structures and institutions that would enable them response to emergencies in a speedy and efficient manner.

“NEMA also was asked to provide technical support, not just disaster relief after the facts, but technical support for these emergencies at the local level and necessary training to aid the States establish the State SEMA and then the Local Government Emergency Management Committees.”

According to him, the council also directed the Federal Ministry of Finance and state commissioners of finance to discuss details of the government’s Ecological Fund allocations to states to provide enough funding for SEMA and LEMCs.

Fayemi also stressed the need for the country to develop a “Disaster Management Protocol” to raise the level of awareness of the people on the implication of emergency situations.

Lagos and Bauchi states already have the proposed state controlled emergency management units but will have to go a step further in creating local units.