The Federal Ministry of Finance in Nigeria has set up a committee to recover un-remitted operating surpluses of Ministries Department and Agencies of the government, running into 450 billion Naira.
The committee led by the Accountant General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris, is to reconcile the operating surpluses of 31 revenue-generating agencies of government from 2010 to 2015.
The findings of the committee so far, have shown under-remittance of over 450 billion Naira, which has accrued within the period.
The Finance Ministry stated that staff of the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation have critically reviewed the accounting statements of these agencies, which include the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Petroleum Technology Development Fund, (PTDF), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), among others.
The Committee will invite the management of these agencies to explain why their operating surpluses have not been remitted as mandated by the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.
Sections 21 and 22 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007, specifically states that: The government corporations and agencies and government owned companies listed in the Schedule to this Act (in this Act referred of as “the Corporations”) shall, not later than six months from the commencement of this Act and every three financial years thereafter and not later than the end of the second quarter of every year, cause to be prepared and submit to the Minister their Schedule estimates of revenue and expenditure for the next three financial years.
The Act further stated that each of the bodies referred to in sub-section (1) of the section should submit to the Minister not later than the end of August in each financial year: an annual budget derived from the estimates submitted in pursuance of subsection (1) of this section; and a projected operating surplus which shall be prepared in line with acceptable accounting practices.
It also stated that the Minister shall cause the estimates submitted in pursuance of subsection (2) of this section to be attached as part of the Appropriation Bill to be submitted to the National Assembly.
Another part of the Act that pertains to the MDAs stated that notwithstanding the provisions of any written law governing the corporation, each corporation shall establish a general reserve fund and shall allocate thereto at the end of each financial year, one-fifth of its operating surplus for the year.
“The balance of the operating surplus shall be paid into the Consolidate Revenue Fund of the Federal Government not later than one month following the statutory deadline for publishing each corporation’s accounts,” the Act added.
Some of these agencies have incurred huge expenses on overseas training and medicals, and huge expenses on behalf of supervisory ministries and/other organs of government involved in oversight or regulatory functions without appropriate approval.
Other infractions include payment of salaries and allowances to staff and board members, governing councils, and commissions which are outside or above the amount approved by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC) and the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission.
The list also includes unacceptable expenses incurred on donations and sponsorships among others. It also contained unfavourable contract signed for revenue collection by a third party; granting of staff loans that have not been repaid as well as sale and transfer of assets to board members, among others.
According to the Finance Ministry, the overall effect of these practices is that operating surpluses of these agencies are lower than it should be.
As a result of this, the Honourable Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun has directed the Accountant General of the Federation to issue a circular that will limit allowable expenses that can be spent as part of measures to ensure these agencies face strict monitoring.
This development is part of the resolve of the Honourable Minister to ensure that leakages are tackled.