The Senate Public Accounts Committee has sustained the query issued by the Auditor General for the Federation against the National Agency for the Control of AIDS.
The agency was indicted over its alleged failure to make available necessary records of its global funds for audit. The query was issued based on the 2016 Report of the AuGF currently being scrutinized by the Senate panel
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, while ruling on the matter at the panel’s last sitting, last week, wondered why the management of NACA failed to submit its financial activities concerning global funds for perusal.
Urhoghide said his panel was interested in the financial activities surrounding the global fund such as the amount received and its utilisation.
The Director of Finance and Account of the agency, Nsikak Ebong, however, told the panel that the financial records of the global funds were available for necessary screening any day.
Ebong said, “The global fund grants records are always available for review. These documents have always been made available to audit or review on demand.”
The representative of the AuGF, Eyitatyo Ageshin, faulted the position of the DFA of NACA. He alleged that when his office requested the documents in 2016, the agency could not present them
He said, “The report was written in August 2016 and they responded on February 20, 2017, almost about seven months after.
“We asked them to respond within 21 days but they didn’t do that. When NACA responded after seven months, they simply said “This is noted.”
“That means that they agreed that they committed an error and you now said the records are ready and available for your (AuGF), office at your convenience.
“That means we should come to your (NACA) office again, the second time. We don’t have that time. We expected you to bring your records to the (AUgF) office because the onus is on you to defend that record. You didn’t bring it.”
Ruling on the matter, Urhoghide said, “There is no proof before us that gave details of what you got from global funds. DFA, you were there when this query was raised in 2016.
“Why don’t you bring the necessary documents that would show us what you got from the global fund? You were coming to the Senate to respond to the query raised against you and you didn’t bring any document to show us. We sustain the query.”
The query partly read, “The records of Global Fund with the Agency were not released for audit examination despite repeated demands.
“As a result, it was not possible to ascertain the total amount received from the Fund during the year to form an objective opinion on the judicious utilization of the money.
“All efforts to obtain the records, including explanations, were not successful.
“Similarly, the financial activities of the Global Fund such as amount received from the Fund and its utilization were not incorporated into the 2015 Financial Statements of the Agency, to form part of the agency‟s incomes and expenditure for the year.
“The Financial Statements of the agency are expected to disclose not only funds from the Federal Government of Nigeria, but also incomes from other sources such as the Global Fund, World Bank, and so on.
“Details of the utilisation of the funds should also be disclosed, to give complete information regarding the financial position of the agency and to avoid misleading the public.
“The Director-General did not respond to my report dated 29th August 2017. He should therefore be compelled to explain the incomplete financial statements. “
Nigeria Records Trade Deficit of 8.9 Trillion in Nine Months
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released a report that showed that Nigeria recorded a trade deficit of 8.9 Trillion Naira between January and September 2021.
A trade deficit occurs when a country’s imports exceed its exports over a period. Within the period, foreign trade was 35.09 Trillion Naira which comprised imports of 22 Trillion Naira and exports of 13.1 Trillion which led to an 8.9 Trillion trade deficit.
A breakdown of the data by quarters shows that trade stood at 9.76 Trillion Naira in the first quarter, which represented imports of 6.85 Trillion Naira and exports of 2.91 Trillion Naira, this resulted in a trade deficit of 3.94 Trillion during the period.
The data went on to show that the majority of the goods imported in the first quarter were from China (valued at 2 Trillion), the Netherlands (valued at 726.09 Billion) the United States (valued at 608.12 Billion), India (valued at 589.1 Billion), and Belgium (valued at 238.5 Billion) while the majority of exports were to India (valued at 488.1 Billion), Spain (valued at 287.2 Billion), China (190.1 Billion), the Netherlands (160.0 Billion) and France (133 Billion).
In the third quarter, Crude oil dominated exports with 78.47% of exports, this was followed by natural gas with 9.5%. Imports were mainly motor spirit with 12.91% of imports, Durum wheat with 3.87%, gas oil with 2.77%, and used vehicles with 2.27%.
A renowned economist, Pat Utomi said the country’s huge appetite for imports was because of insufficient domestic production which is driven by worsening insecurity and stringent government regulations. He went on to say that although there were interventions introduced by the Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria to reduce imports and increase exports, the initiatives are fraught with inconsistencies and corrupt practices that prevent any real impact.
He went on to say that it was scandalous that Nigeria’s top imports were food products and motor spirits as those are products the country should be exporting because Nigeria is a food-producing nation and has oil in abundance.
World Bank Calls on Nigeria to Impose Special Taxes on Alcohol and Tobacco
The World Bank Group has made a call to the Federal Government of Nigeria, urging the government to impose special taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and beverages that are highly sweetened in order to improve primary healthcare conditions in the country.
Shubham Chaudhuri, who is the Country Director for Nigeria in the World Bank Group, said that an improvement in healthcare in Nigeria will come by taxing the things that are “killing us.” He said that the economic rationale for the action is quite strong if lives are to be saved and a healthier Nigeria achieved.
Chaudhuri made the call on Friday, at a special National Council on Health meeting which was organized by the Federal Ministry of Health in Abuja. Chaudhuri stated that placing special taxes on tobacco, sweetened beverages and alcohol would reduce the health risks which come with their consumption and expand the fiscal space for universal health coverage after COVID 19.
The country director also said that investing in stronger health systems for all would make significant contributions to the fight against inequality and the rising poverty situation in the country. He went on to add that increasing health tax would provide an extra advantage of reducing healthcare cost in the future, by hindering the growth of the diseases which are caused by tobacco, alcohol and sugar-sweetened beverages.
The representative of the WHO in Nigeria, Dr Walter Mulombo said that he could confirm the large health needs of Nigerians, as well as the efforts being made to meet those needs. He said this was based on the fact that he had been to over half of Nigeria’s states in less than two years of being in the country.
Mulombo then noted that although the coronavirus exposed weaknesses in the global economy (not excluding health), it could be considered as a unique opportunity for a thorough examination of existing resources and mechanisms to prepare for a more resilient future.
Nigeria’s VAT Revenue Falls to N500 Billion in Q3 2021, Manufacturing Sector in the Lead
In the third quarter of 2021, Nigeria generated a total sum of N500.49 billion as value-added tax which represents a 2.3% decline when compared to the N512.25 billion recorded in the second quarter of the year.
This is as seen in the VAT report which was recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The report revealed that the manufacturing sector was in the lead as it remitted a total of N91.2 billion, representing about 30% of the total local non-import value added taxes in that period.
In spite of the quarter-on-quarter decline of VAT collections in the reviewed period, it grew by a further 17.8% when compared to N424.7 billion generated in the same period of the previous year. The report also shows that an amount of N1.5 trillion has been generated from value added taxes from January 2021 to September 2021.
That is 40.2% higher than the N1.08 trillion recorded in the same period of 2020, and 72.3% higher than what was recorded in the same period of 2019.
To break it down, the Value Added Tax collected in the first, second and third quarter of 2021 was recorded at N496.39 billion, N512.25 billion and N500.49 billion respectively. It is higher than the corresponding figures of 2020, which sat at N324.58 billion, N327.20 billion and N424.71 billion for the first, second and third quarters respectively.
In the third quarter of 2021, the Manufacturing activity accounted for the largest share of total revenue collected across sectors, with a huge 30.87% (N91.2 billion) coming from that sector. The Information & Communication sector came in second with 20.05% (N53.9 billion) contributed, while the Mining & Quarrying sector came in third with 9.62% (N28.4 billion).
Nigeria has continued to ramp up its efforts to increase revenue from non-oil sectors by increasing its tax collection rates, which has recorded largely significant growth since the federal government increased the VAT rate from 5% to 7.5% in the 2019 Finance Act, which was signed and made effective in 2020.
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