Senate queries PTDF over bankruptcy claims

Diezani-Alison-Madueke07 October 2013, Abuja – The Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), has issued a seven-day deadline to the management of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund to provide details of its earnings in the last five years as well as a comprehensive list of its portfolio investments.

Chairman of the committee,  Senator Emmanuel Paulker,  gave the ultimatum to the management of the PTDF led by its  Executive Secretary, Dr. Oluwole Oluleye, when the panel visited the agency to carry out its oversight  functions.

Oluleye had told the committee that the agency would be completely bankrupt within the next few months except the Federal Ministry of Finance paid it the N57bn 2013 budget backlog.

He added that the non- payment of the amount could deprive Nigerian students currently enjoying the PTDF scholarships in foreign universities their grants.

He also told the Paulker-led panel that the PTDF had not been able to pay workers salaries in the past two months due to the cash crunch.

The PTDF boss explained that the multi-billion dollar statutory “signature bonus” payments had been withheld from PTDF over the years.

But Paulker faulted the PTDF’s bankruptcy claims when he alleged that the agency had “several portfolio investments and other sources of income, shrouded in secrecy.”

He also faulted the anticipatory budgeting practice of the PTDF,  noting that the practice was criminal and negated the procurement Act.

He said, “What happened to your investments and portfolio? You cannot say because signature bonuses have not been paid, you are suddenly broke and cannot pay salaries and fund scholarship abroad.

“I think it is an indictment on the PTDF and you are being economical with the truth. A situation where you begin to beg foreign universities over inability to pay fees is embarrassing to the Nigerian government.

“I frown on a situation where government business is treated like a personal matter.”

Also, members of the committee on the occasion, queried why the PTDF declared N123,205,016.77 in “Excess of Income/(Expense) Over Expenditure” but claimed inability to pay workers salaries and meet sundry financial obligations.

– The Punch

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