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Audit report exposes Customs, NNPC under- remittance to Federation account.

Aghughu Adolphus, Auditor-General of Federation

 

Eyewitness reporter

The 2019 Auditor- General’s Federation Annual Report has shown that the country may have been shortchanged to the tune of N666.15 billion due to the discrepancies observed in the financial books of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

Section 85(5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (as amended), states that “the Auditor-General shall, within ninety days of receipt of the Accountant-General’s financial statement, submit his reports under this section to each House of the National Assembly and each House shall cause the reports to be considered by a committee of the House of the National Assembly responsible for public accounts”.

In compliance with the provisions of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on August 18, 2021, the Auditor-General for the Federation, Aghughu Adolphus, submitted to the Clerk of the National Assembly the Annual Report on the Federal Government of Nigeria Consolidated Financial Statements (CFS) for the year ended 31st December 2019.

A review of the Audit report revealed that some of the figures, particularly those of the NNPC and NCS did not tally.

Thus, it may have led to a huge loss of revenue to the government.

On page 50 of its 2019 Annual Reports and Financial Statements, the NNPC-National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) reported that it transferred the sum of N1.27 trillion to the Federation Account

However, in the 2019 Audit report, the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) who is the Chief Accounting Officer for the receipts and payments of account of the federation,  noted in his records submitted for audit that only N608.71 billion was received as a remittance by NNPC into the Federation Account for 2019.

This shows a difference of N663.90 billion, between the figure NNPC-NAPIMS reported in its audited financial statements and the amount the AGF claimed the NNPC transferred into the Federation Account as remittance for 2019.

Similar discrepancies were noted in the financial books of the Nigeria Customs Service.

As noted in the Auditor’s report, the NCS generated revenue of N841.27 billion in 2019. This exact amount was supposed to be remitted by NCS to the Federation Account.

However, only the sum of N839.02 was remitted to the Federation Account through the Nigerian Integrated Customs Information System II (NICIS II), indicating that the total money remitted fell short by N2.26 billion.

If the NCS’s N2.26 billion variance is added up with the N663.90 billion shortfall observed in the financial statements of NNPC and AGF’s record, it brings the total figure to N666.15 billion.

As the Auditor General noted in the report, these discrepancies mean a loss of revenue to the government and could lead to difficulty in funding the (2019) budget.

True to the worries expressed by the Auditor-General in the 2019 Audit report, it was actually difficult for the government to fund its 2019 budget as the government resorted to borrowing.

In December 2018, President Buhari presented to a joint session of the National Assembly a proposed budget of N8.83 trillion for the 2019 fiscal year.

In his budget presentation, the President noted that the 2019 budget had a projected deficit of N1.86 trillion which was to be financed by borrowing.

The country’s Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed stated clearly that, “we (the government) intend to fund the 2019 budget through borrowing locally and internationally with a spread of 50:50”, indicating that the government lacked the necessary revenue to fund its budget for that year.

The 2019 budget was not the first the government-financed through borrowed funds.

Prior to this, the government has borrowed both home and abroad to help to finance its budgets and to fund infrastructure projects, the trend which continues till today.

However, if the N666.15 billion arising from the differences in the financial records provided by the NNPC and AGF, as well as that of the NCS had been fully remitted to the Federation Account as the Audit report showed, it could have potentially reduced the amount the government borrowed to fund the 2019 budget by 35.71%.

This could have also reduced the country’s debt burden which currently stands at N35 trillion and is projected to rise to the tune of at least N41 trillion before the end of 2022.

While the government continues to devise ways to tackle the problem of revenue shortages that have made it difficult to fund its annual budgets, economic experts advised that the Federal Government should follow the recommendations of the Auditor General by ensuring that the management of the NNPC provide reasons for the discrepancy between what it reported in its NNPC-NAPIMS audited financial statements and the figure reported by the AGF as NNPC-NAPIMS remittance into the Federation Account for 2019.

The same should apply to the management of the NCS.

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As Nigerdock recants operational breaches, FG may lift suspension on the facility

The Eyewitness reporter
The Federal Government has expressed its readiness to lift the suspension order on Nigerdock following its willingness to abide by the rules and its contributions to the growth of the National economy.
The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, stated this recently when he visited the firm in Lagos in the company of the Minister of State for Transportation, Prince Ademola Adegoroye and some Management Staff of the Ministry.
Addressing the Chief Executive Officer, Nigerdock, Maher Jarmakani and other officials of the company, the Minister pointed out that the reason why they were suspended was as a result of complaints from other Terminal Operators, saying Nigerdock had operating advantages over them.
“What led to your suspension was that I received complaints from Terminal Operators, saying that you are not on the same level with them. In the sense that they pay more to the government than you do. You’re likely to attract freight at a much lower cost to the detriment of businesses”,  the Minister disclosed.
He, therefore, urged them to liaise with Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to work out all the operational licenses needed to enable them to operate and the latter will forward the same to the Minister of Transportation whose prerogative it is to give approvals.
Speaking further, the Minister said: “We will never do anything to undermine the things you are doing here in terms of generating wealth and jobs for Nigerians.  The only thing we are saying is that the law should be followed. We should not encourage lawlessness “.
Responding, the CEO, Nigerdock, Maher Jarmakani, said the firm has taken notable steps in this regard as they have been granted bonded permits by the Nigerian Customs and they are currently working with Nigerian Ports Authority to ensure all processes of getting the needed approvals are followed accordingly.
“We are seeking your support Honourable Minister and that is why we wrote a letter of appeal for your guidance and your support to see that we have followed all processes and procedures” Jarmakani stated.
Furthermore, Jarmakani informed the Minister that in the 30 years of its existence, Nigerdock has employed more Nigerians than its peers, assuring that the company will not undermine the country’s extant rules and regulations.
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APMT advocates road tax credit programme to attract investments to port industry.

L-R: Former President, Shipowners Association of Nigeria, Greg Ogbeifun; Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello-Koko; President Nigerian Maritime Law Association, Funke Agbor; Executive Director ENL Consortium, Mark Walsh and Chief Financial Officer of APM Terminals Apapa, Courage Obadagbonyi at the Nigeria International Maritime Summit (NIMS) 2022 in Lagos on Tuesday.
The Eyewitness reporter
The Chief Financial Officer of APM Terminals Nigeria, Courage Obadagbonyi has advised the Federal Government to replicate some of the tax laws operating in other sectors of the economy to the maritime industry in order to attract more investments.
According to him, tax programmes such as pioneer legislation, Infrastructure and Roads Tax Credit Program which companies like MTN and Dangote have used to successfully build hundreds of kilometres of roads and bridges across the country can also be replicated in the ports.
Speaking as a panelist during a session on ‘Financing Maritime Assets – Ports and Shipyards’ at the just concluded Nigeria International Maritime Summit (NIMS) 2022, Obadagbonyi said, “I am of the school of thought that funding of viable infrastructural projects is not an issue in terms of availability of cash.
“There is a lot of private equity and multilateral funding available if the projects are well positioned and investors have a line of sight to their payback.
“I think what we need to do is publicity and sell these projects to the right individuals with the right pockets. There are incentives that are available to investors in Nigeria.”
Speaking further, he said, “I think with more publicity and engagement with private stakeholders, a lot of some of these challenges that are bedeviling us with investing in port infrastructure can be fixed.
“For instance, we have great tax laws that incentivize investment in this country.
“Things like pioneer legislation, Infrastructure and Roads Tax Credit Program which companies like MTN and Dangote have used to successfully build hundreds of kilometres of roads and bridges across the country can also be replicated in the ports.
” We also have great capital allowance provisions that encourage investors.”
He advised the Federal Government to embark on a massive awareness campaign to further attract private capital to the nation’s seaports because, according to him, based on the latest data published by the Debt Management Office, the country’s debt profile currently stands at N42 trillion, which is about four times the country’s total revenue budget per annum.
This, he said, makes the cost of borrowing more expensive.
Obadagbonyi said Nigeria had to find creative ways to unleash private sector participation in port rehabilitation instead of depending on government funding through borrowing.
NIMS 2022 was declared open on Monday by the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo.
“Sustainable financing models are important to build critical maritime assets such as shipyards and ports across the country,” Sambo had said while declaring the summit open.
The Minister said Nigeria remained committed to the sustainability of the blue economy.
Also speaking during the opening ceremony, Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Kitack Lim said, “I am aware of Nigeria’s significance to the maritime sector of West and Central Africa.
” Carbonisation is the greatest challenge of our time, which IMO is working to address. The upgrading strategies shall be concluded in July 2023.
“By next year, we shall adopt the long-time strategy. However, prior to that time, we shall continue to support member countries.”
He lauded Nigeria’s role in the suppression of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea but cautioned that stakeholders must continue to remain vigilant as continuous capacity building is key to success in this regard.
APM Terminals Apapa, the largest container terminal operator in Nigeria, has invested more than $438 million at the Lagos Port Complex Apapa.
The amount was invested in developing infrastructure, acquiring equipment and improving processes at the terminal.
The terminal has also been at the forefront of digitisation of port operations in Nigeria in line with its commitment to introducing new innovations to help both shipping lines and landside customers achieve improved supply chain efficiency and flexibility in a cost-effective manner.
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NIMASA unveils N17.4 billion new highrise headquarters on Victoria Island

 

The Eyewitness reporter
The Director- General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Bashir Jamoh and his management team stood tall Tuesday when the tall, magnificent highrise building that will serve as the agency’s headquarters, was unveiled and commissioned.
Sharing in the moment of glory of the epoch-making event was the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Kitack Lim, who had the rare privilege of commissioning the edifice, and the Minister of Transportation Engr Muazu Sambo together with his permanent secretary, Dr. Magdalene Ajani.
Apparently awed by the N17 billion tall and ultra-modern building, Mr. Lim said that more important is human competency and capability, while leadership is the most paramount.
He however lauded the initiators of the befitting project while expressing confidence in the leadership of the transport sector of Nigeria.
 He also extolled the dynamic role of the Minister of Transportation, Engr. Mu’azu Jaji Sambo and the heads of the various parastatals under the supervision of the Transportation Ministry.
“An important element is human competency and capability, with leadership being the most paramount to consider, which I have seen exhibited by the Minister.
“He is an extraordinary and rare leader. I am very confident to look forward to more prosperous opportunities and development of maritime activities of Nigeria”, he said.

The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo expressed gratitude to the IMO Secretary-General for making out time to visit Nigeria and also having a first-hand opinion on the developmental strides in Nigeria’s maritime sector.

 He stated that Nigeria will strive to ensure Nigerian maritime activities are in line with best practices, while also embracing new technologies in the frontier of global maritime discourse.

Also speaking at the event, the Chairman, House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Hon. Lynda Ikpeazu commended the Dr. Bashir Jamoh-led Management of NIMASA.

She noted that NIMASA should aim higher as there is room for improvement.

The NIMASA Director General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh  again thanked the IMO Secretary-General for his visit to Nigeria

 “Your name will remain in gold as long as Nigeria’s Maritime Administration is concerned”.

Jamoh further intimated him that NIMASA has embarked on various projects in the year, 2022, all with the aim of ensuring a robust and conducive maritime environment is attained in Nigeria.

This, he said, has been made possible with the support of stakeholders across the board.

In July 2021, the Federal Executive Council approved N17.4 billion to purchase the new highrise building that is located on Victoria Island.

The magnificent edifice is a 16- storey High rise building christened Kanti Tower which sits atop 6600sq metres of land and it is said to consist of the latest technology fittings, a helipad and a parking bay for over 100 cars.
 It was developed through a joint venture between the Lagos State Development Property Company – LSDPC and Senkay Nigeria Limited.
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