The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, on Wednesday, said the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency had not been remitting the revenues generated to the government’s coffers.
The immediate past Director-General of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolkemi, is currently facing 40 counts of fraud and money laundering to the tune of N34.5bn.
Adeosun specifically stated that in some instances, NIMASA collected revenue in dollars but paid naira into the government’s account. The minister said this while addressing journalists after the first Federal Executive Council meeting of the year inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
She explained that the requirement was that such money should go to the Central Bank of Nigeria which would convert the money to naira.
Adeosun said while the government had stopped NIMASA from doing so, an audit was being carried out to identify other agencies.
This, she explained, was why the government was doing a full audit of all those accounts and to ensure that all those revenues were converted in accordance with the extant procedures and guidelines.
The minister added that it was also discovered that some of the agencies spent government money without control.
When asked what would be the fate of the heads of the MDAs under whose purview government funds were diverted in the past, the minister said she would not want to pre-empt the outcome of an audit that would be commissioned by the government. She, however, said that in a situation where it is clear that financial procedures had been breached, there was a process for dealing with the culprits. Adeosun said, “The principal discussion in our meeting today was the initiative by this administration to plug revenue leakages in our MDAs that generate revenue. The presentation to FEC was to remind ministers who supervise these revenue-generating boards of their responsibilities under the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
“Let me remind you that under the FRA, these boards and corporations who generate revenue are supposed to generate and operate surplus, 80 per cent of which is to be credited to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
“But we have discovered that many agencies have never credited anything and never generated any operating surplus including some whose salaries, overheads and capital are paid by the Federal Government.
“In addition to that, they generate revenue which they spend without any form of control.”
Adeosun said one of the initiatives adopted by the government was the directive to all the agencies that they must all submit a budget that must be subject to approval and they must operate within that budget so that the surplus that is meant to come to the Federal Government could be seen to be used appropriately.
Adeosun ruled out the possibility of any ministry inflating its budget when there was no revenue
She said, “There can be no inflation of budget when revenues are so thin and one of the things that I think that the budgeting process is doing is pruning down unnecessary expenditure.
“Let me also mention that we have set up the efficiency unit that is going to look into how we spend money and look at how we make savings because the money just isn’t there.”
Adeosun said the Federal Government had discovered that many revenue-generating agencies had not been remitting the revenues generated to the government’s coffers.
She explained that these are revenues of government in non-oil economies but the government had not been looking in the direction of the MDAs in the past because the country had a lot of oil money
She disclosed that a circular had been issued to the agencies in their hundreds in December 2015 requesting that they send their budgets.
“What we discussed today (Wednesday) was the responsibility of the ministers to ensure that whether those agencies have boards or not, those budgets are prepared and that the Ministry of Finance is going to sit down with the supervising ministers and the boards concerned where necessary, to go through their budgets and make sure that they are reasonable and that the costs are not inflated.
“We also discussed that in some cases, because some agencies have a track record and history of making sure that every naira they earned was spent, we will go in and audit agencies under Section 107 ( 8 ) of the Financial Regulations.
“The Accountant-General, who is under the Ministry of Finance, has the power to go in and make inquiries about how public money is spent, so we will be sending in auditors to some agencies where we believe their cost is simply excessive and not in tandem with our expectations.
“The expected outcome of this is that the Internally Generated Revenue which the new budget is banking on will actually become a reality. So, that was the principal discussion and everybody in the cabinet endorsed the initiative.”