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MDAs siphon FG’s revenues through illegal means –Senate

 

…threatens to sanction erring agencies

 

The Senate has raised the alarm, that most revenues accruable to the Federal Government were being siphoned by revenue generating agencies through illegal means.

 

The Senate, however, threatened to decisively sanction such agencies if such unwholesome practices depriving government of revenues persisted in the system. Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos), raised the alarm after an investigative hearing with the Management team of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), led by its Director-General, Mr. Ostia Okechukwu.

 

The Committee is currently holding investigative hearings with different agencies of government at the National Assembly, in preparation for the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) that will form the foundation for 2022 budget.

 

Facing the Committee to explain the revenue status of the Voice of Nigeria, the Director-General told the lawmakers that his agency was not among the revenue generating establishments of the Federal Government.

 

Okechukwu, however, angered the panel when he claimed that he was not aware of the government circular directing all agencies to collect one percent stamp duty from every contract awarded by the Federal Government or its agencies.

 

Adeola, therefore, directed the VON boss to, within six weeks, recoup all the millions of naira belonging to the Federal Government, which was not collected from the contractors as stamp duties from 2016 to 2020.

 

He threatened that failure to comply with this directive, the Committee would have no choice than to apply its constitutional mandate to impose severe sanctions on the agency.

 

His words: “As you have rightly said, that is very embarrassing. And I can say that actions like that should come with a punishment.

 

For a Director- General of an agency such as the Voice of Nigeria, to tell the Nigerian Senate’s Committee on Finance, that he is not aware of the circular that gives directive that one percent stamp duty be deducted from ev

 

ery contract awarded by the Federal Government or any agency of the Federal Government, is not only insensitive of that agency, it also shows lack of competence on the part of that agency.

 

“It is sad. And you can see in our own comment the directive that has been given, that all the money must be recouped between 2016 and 2020, which is the period under review.

 

“He must go after those contractors and get their names, the amount they are owing and ask them to pay that money. And we have given him a window of six weeks, to ensure that all the millions of naira belonging to the Federal Government from this singular action must be recouped.

 

“That must be done within six weeks and failure to do that, the Senate will be forced to take very decisive action against that agency, for such very insensitive action on their part.

 

“You should be aware that this investigative hearing that we are doing is in preparation for the coming of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) that will form the foundation for 2022 budget.

 

“As you are all aware, this year’s budget is in deficit of about N5.6 trillion. And the whole idea here is to maintain sanity into the system.

 

“Many of the revenue generating agencies of the government are not doing the right thing. Government’s money is being siphoned through illegal means. And that has been demonstrated from the answers we have been getting from these agencies. “So, what is our position?

 

Our position will be, agencies of the government that is fully funded from the Federal Government budget should not, in any way, touch any revenue accruing to it. Any of such revenue should be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Account.

 

Any agency that refuses to comply, we will give a directive through the resolution of the Senate, that henceforth, such agencies should be deleted from the budget, most especially in the area of overhead cost.

 

This means that you can spend your revenue and, at the end of every financial year, you pay 80% of your operational surplus to the government, and government will also withhold overhead cost as contained in the budget passed by the National Assembly.

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