… Auditor-General Asks EFCC, ICPC To Probe Infractions
An audit conducted by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation has been uncovered how 18 agencies of the Federal Government failed to remit the sum of N54.69bn into the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account.
The non-remittance of the fund is in violation of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007.
Based on the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007, about 122 agencies are required to pay their operating surpluses into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government.
The Act requires listed government agencies to remit 80 per cent of their annual operating surpluses to the CRF Account.
The operating surplus is made up of revenues accruing to government agencies above what they are approved to spend at the beginning of the budget year.
During its audit of the financial statements of these revenue agencies, the Auditor-General of the Federation discovered that 18 of them failed in their statutory obligations of remitting revenue generated to the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account of the Federal Government.
It also observed that 17 out of the 18 agencies of government failed to either deduct or remit deductions by way of Value Added Tax, Withholding Tax, PAYE, Stamp Duties and other similar statutory deductions to the relevant agencies.
The failure of these agencies according to the Audit Report obtained by THE WHISTLER has deprived the government of the much-needed fund to pursue its development agenda.
Giving a breakdown of how the N54.69bn was not remitted, the Audit Report stated that the sum of N48.55bn being Internally Generated Revenue was not remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government.
Similarly, it said a total of N5.41bn being statutory deductions by way of VAT, WHT, PAYE, Stamp Duties, were also either not deducted or not remitted to the relevant agencies.
The 18 agencies that committed these infractions are the Bank of Industry which had the highest unremitted revenue of N46.23bn; Environmental Health Officers Council of Nigeria N29.53m; Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria N104.97m; National Insurance Commission N1.05bn; Nigeria Police Force Gombe State Command N160,400; Federal Medical Center, Owerri N8.51m; Jos University Teaching Hospital N333.38m; and Petroluem Products Pricing Regulatory Agency N42.37m.
Also, Lagos University Teaching Hospital failed to remit N237m, Federal School of Occupational Therapy,Lagos N3.25m; Federal Medical Center, Keffi N2.14m; Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria N68.6m; Federal College of Agriculture, Ibadan N9.76m; Veterinary Council of Nigeria N74.65m; Nigeria Police Academy, Wudil N46.45m; Federal Polytechnic, Idah N9.88m; and Federal University of Technology of Agriculture, Abeokuta N289.3m.
The Auditor-General in the Audit Report recommended that the Accounting Officers in these agencies of Government should be sanction for the infractions committed in the non remittance of revenue.
The Report stated that more disturbing was the fact that despite various recommendations by the Auditor General’s Office in the past to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Mrs Zainab Ahmed, the infractions still continue to occur.
It stated “Given the failure of the Accounting Officers of the defaulting MDAs in remitting the amounts due to the Federal Government, I recommend that the Accounting Officers and every other officer
responsible for the infraction be surcharged accordingly, while the matter is referred to the either Economic and Financial Crimes Commission or the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission as stated in Financial Regulation 3112 (i) & (ii).”
The Registrar, Institute of Finance and Control of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Eohoi, said the findings of the audit report should be investigated by the Public Account Committee of the National Assembly and necessary action taken against those that committed these infractions.
He said the collaboration of the Public Accounts Committee, the anti-corruption agencies, and non governmental organizations were vital in holding government agencies accountable in the management of the country’s resources.
He said, “We need sound financial control system in the public sector to be able to check many of these infractions.
“A financial system that lacks strong internal control mechanism would be prone to abuses and that is what we are seeing in the public sector.
“Finance should be well controlled in a manner that would make it difficult for funds to be misappropriated.”
Also speaking, an expert in Public Sector Accounting, Charles Ofomata said he Auditor-General’s office should be strengthened in a manner that would make him sanction those that have committed financial infractions.
“Since the auditor has the primary responsibility of ensuring transparency and accountability in government financial activities, granting him the power to apply disciplinary measures will serve as deterrent to the stealing of government revenue by public officials.
“This will make it easier for government to save a lot of much needed revenue for development projects by blocking a lot of leakages,” he added.