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Unremitted N450bn: FG to Prosecute Revenue Generating Agencies’ Officials



  • FG to Prosecute Revenue Generating Agencies’ Officials

The Federal Government on Thursday said it would prosecute any official of revenue generating agencies indicted in the audit report, which revealed that N450bn was not remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account.

The unremitted amount, which involved about 33 revenue generating agencies of government, was for the 2010 to 2015 fiscal periods.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who gave the hint during a media briefing on Internally Generated Revenue of government agencies, said the report of the special audit conducted by the ministry revealed serious infractions in some of the agencies.

She said a decision had already been taken that the reports on some of the indicted agencies would be taken to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, while those of the others had been made available to their respective parent ministries.

The minister said the accounts of 33 agencies of government covering 2010 to 2015 had been audited, adding that a total sum of N450bn was recoverable from the agencies.

Some of the agencies are the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Shippers’ Council, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, National Health Insurance Scheme, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and Nigerian Communication Commission.

Others are Nigerian Postal Service, National Information Technology and Development Agency, Nigerian Television Authority, Bureau of Public Enterprises, National Pensions Commission and Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc.

The list also has the Raw Material Research and Development Council, Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, and the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria.

Adeosun said, “The financial regulations are very clear. Where audit reports have indicted some of the officers, because some of the audit reports are going to the EFCC, some of the auditors’ findings are so serious that a decision was taken that those particular reports must go to the EFCC.

“The Ministry of Finance is not a prosecuting agency; ours is to investigate and hand over to the relevant agencies. All the audit reports have been sent to the parent ministries so they can take appropriate actions; and where there are breaches of procedure, the audit report states what procedures have been breached.”

Adeosun lamented that while the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 was designed to provide guidelines and controls to elicit greater accountability and transparency in fiscal operations, actual compliance by revenue generating agencies had been poor.

This, according to her, has resulted in revenue leakages as confirmed by the audit findings conducted by the Finance ministry.

The minister gave the infractions committed by the agencies to include non-remittance and under-remittance of operating surpluses to the Consolidated Revenue Fund; operating without an approved budget; overstating of budget and spending above budgeted amount; and under-reporting of revenues.

The audit report, according to the minister, also revealed that payments were made without invoices and payment receipts, while loans and grants were given to parent ministries without prior approval.

It was also found out that the agencies had poor book keeping, failed to reconcile accounts and had in existence irreconcilable differences.

Some of the agencies, according to Adeosun, lack a fixed asset register and maintain inadequate internal audit process with weak internal controls.

There were also the issues of their failure to submit audited financial statements; payroll fraud and exaggeration of payroll costs; overpayment of staff salaries and abuse of personnel grants; as well as unapproved monetisation of medical and other allowances.

When asked what the ministry was doing to stop the leakage of revenue, the minister said a circular had been issued requesting the submission of vital documents for review and approval.

The documents are estimates of revenues and expenses for the next three financial years; as well as annual budgets and projected operating surpluses.

She said a review team had been set up to evaluate submitted estimates before budget submission to the National Assembly.

Adeosun added, “Agencies that do not review and approve their budgets as advised will be restricted to payment of salaries until the budgets are regularised. This circular is backed by an Executive Order of Mr. President. Demand notices have been issued to affected agencies for the payment of outstanding operating surpluses.

“These agencies have also been invited to a meeting scheduled to hold on the 6th of December, where they are required to submit a repayment plan or face appropriate sanctions, including deduction of amounts owed directly from their Treasury Single Account balance.”

The minister disclosed that a circular had been issued on the approved template for the computation of operating surpluses.

She said, henceforth, the ministry would not allow any revenue generating agency to incur what she described as “non-allowable expenses in the computation of operating surpluses.”

The non-allowable expenses, according to her, are salaries and staff loans in excess of the approved scale by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission; monetisation of medical and other allowances; expenditure in excess of approved limits; and donations to individuals, political and charitable organisations.

The agencies, according to the minister, have also been mandated to disclose additional information in their financial statements such as expenses incurred on behalf of supervisory or regulatory agencies.

Others are salaries and allowances paid to board of directors, governing council and commissions outside the approved amounts; donations, sponsorships, gifts and their beneficiaries; and items sold or transferred to staff or board members.

She noted that some agencies had started making remittances to the CRF; adding that N640m had been received from the NSC.

The minister put the total independent revenues generated between January and October 2016 at N272.03bn, adding that the government was targeting to increase this to N811.03bn with the recovery of more amounts owed.

She revealed that as part of the measures to check revenue leakage, a new financing model would also be instituted for universities and hospitals.

This, she noted, would take into consideration their funding model and requirements for better controls and improved service delivery.

She added that a circular on the inclusion of 92 additional corporations, agencies and government owned companies to the schedule of the Fiscal Responsibility Act had been issued.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.


COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations



African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations



China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns



President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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