Oil fund: Lawmakers lambast contradictions in NNPC refund to government

The House of Representatives.

The House of Representatives.

*As govt reveals N222bn spent on subsidy in six months

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

24 September 2015, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The House of Representatives Committee investigating the implementation of the capital component of this year’s budget has criticised government officials for failure to reconcile figures on the sum paid by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) into the Consolidated Revenue Account.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, the Budget Office and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) came out with contradictory reports despite being given a week by the panel to reconcile their figures.

For instance, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) report put the NNPC refund to the Consolidated Revenue Account at N6.330billion per month totalling N44.310billion between January and July this year.

On the other hand, the Finance Ministry’s documents showed that NNPC refund was N5.828billion monthly totalling N46.624,766,453.60 between January and August this year.

The Ministry was also accused of making a confusing presentation to the Committee by failing to distinctly highlight how revenue shortfall in its document affected the capital component of the budget.

In addition, the Ministry also failed to show details of independent revenue while presenting incomparable figures for actuals and projected revenues for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for the period under review.

The affected agencies were given a week to work on their documents again.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government announced that it has spent N222.1billion on fuel subsidy from January to July this year, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Anastasia Daniel-Nwaobia, has said.

Mrs. Daniel-Nwaobia told the House of Representatives panel that a supplementary budget would be sent to the National Assemble to cover what has been spent so far.

She however disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari is set to present a supplementary budget to the National Assembly.

Daniel-Nwaobia was represented by the the Director-General, Budget Office, Aliyu Gusau, whose presentation also fell short of the panel’s expectations for the second time.

She defended the extra-budgetary spending, saying it was spent under Emergency Intervention (Fuel Subsidy Crisis) to end the eight-month long fuel scarcity which started in December last year and ended in July this year.

She also said Nigeria’s Excess Crude Account (ECA) was depleted to about $4billion by the end of last year and $2.08billion as at June this year due to the drop in oil revenue and payment of petroleum subsidies.

She said the drop in oil prices also affected Federal Account Allocation Committee’s (FAAC’s) distribution.

Mrs. Daniel-Nwaobia defended a N615.96billion loan from the Ways and Means Account at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that was secured without the apporval of the National Assembly.

“This is an item under contingency funds, but it allows room to obtain loans and things like that, but I am not too conversant with the details,” she said.
She however said a 2015 supplementary budget would soon be forwarded to the National Assembly by President Buhari.

“I am aware that the Federal Government is handling a number of these issues in the supplementary budget in respect of the 2015 budget. But I am not in a position to pre-empt Mr President in that matter.

“But I believe that he is fully aware of the situation and I am also aware that we have done something in respect of the supplementary budget that we have passed to Mr President,” she said.
Chairman of the panel, Ahman Pategi, said it was against the law to have spent the money that was not contained in the Appropriation Act without recourse to the National Assembly.

According to him, “Appropriation is an Act, and we insist on its implementation, we want to know where there are challenges but to spend monies such as the N222.1billion without recourse to the Parliament is not acceptable to us.”

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