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N23.695bn Unremitted CAC Revenue: Reps Beams Light on NERC, National Hospital, Others

The House of Representatives on Friday unveiled plans to recover the whooping sum of N23.695 billion from Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) directly from the source over the next three years.

Chairman, the joint committee on Finance, Appropriation, National Planning and Economic Development and Aids, Loans and Debts Management, Hon. James Faleke disclosed this during the Day-2 of the 2021 to 2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) and investigative hearing into alleged under-remittance by federally funded agencies.

Hon. Faleke who expressed dissatisfaction with the presentations made by heads of most of the MDAs, frowned at the flagrant breach of the extant financial regulations and the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

In his presentation, CAC Director of Budget Planning, Research and Statistics, Dr Gado Shehu explained that the Commission had an approved revenue budget of N15.770 billion in 2019 while the actual budgetary performance was N12.675 billion showing a deficit of N3.095 billion.

He also said the Commission remitted N100 million.

In his remarks, Hon. Faleke expressed dismay on the paltry sum of N100 million remitted by CAC out of over N12 billion said: “Even that N100 million that you remitted, it was the committee that forced you to remit it, I remember.”

In his response, Mr Shehu affirmed that the Commission in 2018 which had a budget of N16.621 billion but realised N11 billion had zero remittance to the Consolidated Revenue account for the year.

He further said: “The approved revenue budget for 2020 is N18 billion, while the CAC had by June realised N8.3 billion. By June, because the Federal Government has started direct deduction from our revenue, they have deducted N69 million. Twenty-five per cent of whatever drops into our account is deducted,” he said.

Hon. Faleke, however, asked if N69 million is 25 per cent of N8.3 billion, stating that it is less than 1 per cent.

In his response, Mr Shehu while speaking on the proposal by the CAC for 2021, who explained that the total projected revenue was N19.425 billion, however, failed to give details of the proposed operating surplus for the year.

Piqued by the inordinate attitude to the position of the law, Hon. Faleke who was visibly angered by the CAC management disposition said: “The amount that will be deducted from your account directly, without recourse to you in 2021 is N7.77 billion. Write it down.

“In 2022, the amount that will be deducted from your account is N7.925 billion.

“In 2023, by the grace of God, God spearing our lives, the amount that will be deducted from your account is N8 billion.”

He said the CAC should be put on “a five-year statutory enquiry.”

Also at the investigative hearing, Chairman/CEO Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Prof. James Momoh, explained that the Commission got the sums of N6.47 billion in 2018, N8 billion in 2019 and N3.5 billion in 2020. The surplus on the budget was remitted, he said.

Worried by the poor performance of NERC to the extant financial regulations, the lawmakers unanimously resolved to conduct status of inquiry into finances of the Commission in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution which empowers the National Assembly to expose corruption.

On his part, National Hospital Chief Medical Director (CMD), Dr Jack Momoh said the organisation was using most of its internally generated revenue to pay for cleaners, security and other necessary services which are outsourced.

He said there are two types of revenue and that drugs, surgeries are paid for by patients and that there has not been paid for three years for outsourced services amounting to N307 million.

He also affirmed that the Hospital did not get National Assembly approvals for the expenditure.

To this end, Hon. Faleke reminded the CMD that it was illegal to undertake virement of funds appropriated by the National Assembly and signed into law by Mr President without recourse for National Assembly’s approval.

In his intervention, Hon. Johnson Oguma, a member of the House Committee on Health Services who confirmed knowledge of the problem facing the National Hospital, appealed to the Joint Committee to assist the hospital.

While ruling, Hon. Faleke while instituting a sub-committee to carry out the probe said: “In line with the Budget Office, we want to know where our money went, how they spent that money, who and who benefitted from that money rather than remit it to the Federation Account. The report should be submitted to us in one week.”

He, however, frowned at the actions of the Agencies, noting that there is a need to amend the Finance Act to reflect current realities.

He said: “We expect new amendments, a new Finance Act is coming. We’re saying agencies should limit their expenditure to 60 to 70 per cent of their income depending on their income.

“Lead agencies should limit theirs to 60 per cent, while the small agencies should limit theirs to 70 per cent,” he said.

(Tribune)

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