Monday, December 23, 2013

REVEALED: FG Cornered N4.17 Trillion?

The Federal Government incurred “illegal” expenditure totaling N4.17tn between 2004 and 2012, a report by the House of Representatives has shown.
The document was prepared as an interim report by the House Committee on Public Accounts as part of ongoing investigations into the operations of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government.

The expenditure was incurred in what the committee termed “abuse” of the Service Wide Vote.
The vote is provided annually in the nation’s budget to take care of emergencies and “contingencies” that crop up in the course of the year for which a budgetary provision is not made.
The findings of the committee, which is headed by Mr. Adeola Olamilekan, matched earlier queries the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation raised on the abuse of the vote.
Part of the report, which The PUNCH obtained in Abuja on Sunday, reads, “Contrary to the foregoing (using the vote for emergencies), after its examination of the Auditor-General’s reports on the accounts of MDAs, the committee discovered indiscriminate use of the vote in funding government projects and programmes that should otherwise have been provided for in the annual budget, as such expenditure were never contingent in nature.”
The report indicated that the N4.17tn was N2.27tn higher than the N1.8tn the National Assembly approved as service wide vote for the period under review.
This implies that, while the legislature appropriated N1.8tn as service vote, the government spent N4.17tn, incurring extra-budgetary spending of N2.2tn in the process.
A part of the report reads, “In terms of figures, successive governments have, from 2004 to 2012, spent a whopping N4.17tn as against the N1.8tn approved by the National Assembly as SWV component of budgets of those years.
“This translates to N2.2tn extra-budgetary spending or 220 per cent of the SWV budget of the years covered by this report.”
The report added that the only “real emergency spending” from the vote that could be justified was the funding of military operations against militancy in the Niger Delta and the Boko Haram insurgency.
According to the report, the two security challenges(Niger Delta militancy and Boko Haram insurgency) gulped N144.4bn between 2009 and 2012.
The committee clarified that the N144.4bn excluded regular budgetary provisions for these sub-heads.
It also stated that other expenditure captured in the report were done in breach of the aim of the SWV.
For example, the report said N1.2bn was spent on the overseas trips of government officials to seek medical attention.
Former Liberian President, Mr. Charles Taylor’s upkeep while he sojourned in Nigeria between 2004 and 2005, gulped N250m.
The report added, “Most of the expenditure to which the SWV releases were deployed were routine in nature and did not qualify for emergency funding.
“They included expenditure on overseas medical trips for selected public servants and individuals; upkeep of former Liberian President, Charles Taylor; payments to individuals and corporate bodies as judgment debts against the federal government, etc.”
The committee noticed a pattern of increase in releases from the SWV from 2007 to 2012, with 2010 to 2012 recording the highest spending of N1.7tn.
“The period 2007 to 2012 witnessed astronomical increases in SWV releases to the MDAs.
“Releases to MDAs during the period amounted to N3.5tn; releases in 2012 and 2010 topped the list with N900.6bn and N864.2bn respectively.
“It is evident that releases to the MDAs from the SWV during the period ranged from 65.88 per cent to 344.4 per cent of recurrent allocations to the affected MDAs.”
One of the key recommendations of the committee to the House was that the N2.2tn extra-budgetary spending during the period “should be investigated and those found culpable should be sanctioned.”
It also called for the scrapping of the vote if it could not be managed in such as way as to plug the loopholes in the management of the vote.
Source: Punch