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Reps to Probe Federal Hospitals, Others Over Unremitted N7.9tn IGR

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  • Reps to Probe Federal Hospitals, Others Over Unremitted N7.9tn IGR

The House of Representatives is to conduct a status inquiry into the over N7.97tn revenue generated by the Federal Government’s health institutions and allegedly spent without appropriation by the National Assembly.

A motion on the matter is due to be taken as soon as lawmakers reconvene on January 16 after their Christmas and New Year break.

Findings indicated that the House would do a referral on the motion to an ad hoc committee after a resolution on the probe would have been passed.

The motion, which is sponsored by a member from Plateau State, Solomon Bulus-Maren, is seeking an inquiry to cover 2011 to 2017.

Checks revealed that it was initially slated for debate on December 21, but later deferred to January when members would have resumed for the New Year.

The federal health institutions to be covered by the inquiry include federal medical centres, university teaching hospitals and specialist hospitals.

The agencies are said to generate revenues internally, better known as IGR, and are expected to remit same to the Federation Account.

A copy of the motion sighted on Wednesday, indicated that the institutions also get yearly budgetary allocations for their operations, including funds for the payment of salaries.

However, over the years, the institutions reportedly collected N7.97tn IGR and remitted about N200bn to the Federal Account.

The motion states, “The House notes that the Federal Government has more than 70 tertiary health institutions, including university teaching hospitals, federal medical centres and specialist hospitals spread across the country.

“The House also notes that between 2011 and 2017, there had been budgetary allocations ranging from N100m to over N11bn to all university teaching hospitals, FMCs and other tertiary health institutions across the country, amounting to over N4.5tn.

“Further notes that those allocations cover recurrent, overheads and capital expenditure (including procurement of drugs, hospital equipment and furniture) for the purpose of providing quality health care delivery for Nigerians and foreigners within the country.

“The House is concerned that in spite of the huge annual budgetary allocations, the non-availability of medical consumables and/or non-functional or outdated medical equipment in most of those health institutions, lack of proper handling and treatment of ailments, have led to some Nigerians seeking medical treatment abroad, thereby adversely affecting the nation’s economy, especially in the areas of transfer of technology and capital flight.”

The motion adds, “The House is aware that those tertiary health institutions, being public institutions for health care delivery, also serve as revenue generating agencies of government by providing medical, surgical, radiological, pathological, laboratory, haematological consultancy and ambulance services, respectively and such other services related to health issues in exchange for financial payments.

“The House is also aware that the funds generated in the last 18 years, which were estimated at over N7.97tn and were expected to have been paid into the Federation Account, were disbursed without authorisation.

“The House is further aware that those institutions have collectively remitted less than N200bn to the federation account during the years under review.

“The House is informed that there are lots of leakages and high-level of secrecy surrounding the revenues generated and remittances to the federation account through misapplication, misappropriation and diversion at those facilities.

“The House realises that if those internally generated revenues were remitted to the federation account, the funds would have gone a long way in increasing the allocations to the health sector to at least 15 per cent budgetary requirements as stipulated by the World Health Organisation and by extension, improve the quality of health care delivery in the country.

“The House believes that unless steps are taken to address those anomalies, the tertiary health institutions and the entire health care system in the country may collapse.”

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

Government

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

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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

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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

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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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