The House of Representatives, on Tuesday, directed Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) to issue new circular on the remittance of 100 percent revenue generated by fully funded federal agencies, departments and commissions into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) forthwith.
Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Hon Abiodun James Faleke, issued the directive during the 2021-2022 budget defence and 2023-2025 Medium term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Policy Paper (FPP) of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Speaking during the session, Hon Faleke who queried the sum of N23 million (25 percent of revenue generate) out of total sum of N92.4 million generated by the Agency for 2021, requested for details of the 2022 remittance due to Federal Government.
While responding to questions, NAN Managing Director/CEO, Mr Buki Ponle, urged that the Director of Finance & Account, Mr Oladele Ojo said: “It’s in process. We are about making payment to the treasury.”
Piqued by his presentation, Hon Faleke said: “You are about to pay, June? Which month are we?”
In his response, Mr Ojo said: “We are in September.”
While noting that the Agency did well in 2021, Hon Faleke noted that the Agency is trying to spoil that reputation in 2022.
Speaking on the update of remittances made so far, Mr Ojo disclosed that the Agency remitted from January to May 2022.
He maintained that the Agency is remitting 25 percent of the revenue generated in compliance with the by Fiscal Responsibility Commission provisions.
When asked to provide evidence of the 25 percent provision, Mr Ojo observed that the detail was contained in Appendix 4 of the document submitted to the Committee.
In response to Hon Faleke’s inquiry, the FRC representative said: “No Sir, what the law says as far as you are fully funded, whether you are on our schedule or not, you are to remit 100 percent of your IGR.”
Speaking further Hon Faleke said: “That’s my understanding. Do you have a circular that states 100 percent remittances?”
In his response, the FRC representative who spoke affirmatively said: “Yes we have it.”
Hon. Faleke who urged the FRC delegation to avail the NAN Director of Finance & Account a copy of the circular, argued that the Director is in custody of the circular, said: “I’m sure you have it, but you are just trying to be clever by half.”
While stressing that the Agency must obey extant financial laws, Hon. Faleke urged FRC to go back to all your letters and write a new circular so that this type of thing will not occur again. The rule is clear, you have to do 100percent remittance.
“Oga, let’s even assume that you are right, so, why have you not paid June in September? You have not paid June, you have not paid July, you have not paid August?”
While responding, Mr Ojo said: “We got approval for the three months together to make the payment,” stressing that the deduction is not automatic from the source but noting that the payments are carried out through REMITA.
When asked why NAN is so special from the automatic deduction as applicable to other agencies, Mr. Ojo said: “There is no provision like that on the platform.”
When asked about the authority who gave NAN the approval to pay the outstanding three months, he said: “The managing director, the accounting officer.”
He explained that the request for the approval was presented to the NAN managing Director last month (last week of August),.
While responding to question from Hon Faleke whether the Agency has provision for fuel and lubricant in its Appropriation Act, he answered in the affirmative saying “Yes”.
When the NAN Director of Finance & Account was asked whether he spent out of the appropriation approved for the Agency for fuel & lubricant, utility? Mr. Ojo who noted that does not have a copy of the Agency’s Appropriation Act said: “No Sir. We spent from the releases from the budget, from Ministry of Finance from annual appropriation.”
He maintained that the appropriation subhead was included in the Appropriation.
To this end, Hon. Faleke directed the Director Finance & Account to bring the Agency’sAppropriation Act on Monday.
When asked whether he got the letter, Mr Ojo claimed that the Agency responded to the liability and evidence of payment.
While speaking, FRC officer observed that most of these agencies, what happened is when we write them to give them their liability, they don’t respond to us. If they have issues with the liability they should have come forward for reconciliation.
“I have a letter to them duly acknowledged we wrote to them since December last year, giving them their liability from 2016 to 2020, signifying total 100 percent remittance. Since that time, there is no any response from them.”
While speaking, oAGF officer observed that: “I think as at 2017 NAN was still on the Fiscal responsibility schedule for operating surplus, they were still on the schedule that time. But as at December 2021 they were removed because they were not to be in that schedule. Currently for 2022, they were suppose to pay 100 percent. Everybody has the circular. We have 64 on the schedule and you are not part of it. the circular has been in circulation and you are not part of it.”
While addressing the NAN Managing Director, Hon Faleke said: “Are you the DG? Don’t listen to the DFA he will mislead you; I can see his attitude. I can see his attitude; he will mislead you and he can cause you so much. If you are violating FRC and it’s grievous. Do letters come to you directly or to them through you?”
In his response, the NAN Managing Director however said: “They come to me.”
Worried by the development, Hon Faleke said: “So how can you now denied that you don’t have, you are now asking them to give you a copy (of the circular).”
In his presentation, Mr Ponle said: “If I have it and by implication, if we have it, we will make them available to you.”
While ruling, Hon Faleke directed the Fiscal Responsibility Commission to meet with NAN management with a view to reconcile the Agency’s account and report back on Monday by 11am.