Wednesday, 16 December 2015

LEAKED... Senate Uncovers N701bn Illegal Withdrawals From Natural Resources Fund

LEAKED... Senate Uncovers N701bn Illegal Withdrawals From Natural Resources Fund

The Senate Committee on Police Affairs has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately cause the investigation and prosecution of illegal withdrawals to the tune of N701, 489,494,960.61, from the Natural Resources Fund for purposes outside what the money was meant for.

The monies, according to the chairman, Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Abu Ibrahim, was withdrawn between 2002 and 2012, out of the total sum of N873,400,023,790.19 which accrued to the Fund within the same period.

The Fund, established by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) in 2001, derives its funds from 1.68% of the Federation Account for the development of alternative natural resources outside oil and gas.

In a statement by his media aide, Gabriel Agbonika, the Senate committee chairman expressed dissatisfaction over the refusal of federal government to utilise the fund since 2001 for the purposes for which it was established, rather they were expended on contracts and programmes outside of its purview.

The statement reads in parts: “It has been discovered, however, that since its inception, the fund was never appropriately utilised for the purpose it was established.

“For example, it has been discovered that out of the total amount of N873,400,023,790.19 which accrued to the Fund between 2002 and 2012, the sum of N701, 489,494,960.61 was illegally paid put from the account for programmes/projects that have little or no relevance to natural resources development.

“In 2012 the Senate, which acted on my sponsored motion, mandated the Public Accounts Committee to investigate the funds, stressing that the report of the committee has shown clearly how the account of the Fund was misapplied.

“The purpose of the Fund is to provide possibility for every part of the country, other than oil and gas, to benefit from the principle of derivation; therefore I am calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate thoroughly what has happened to the fund’s account between 2012 to date, with a view to appropriately determine the exact position of the fund.”

PMB Writes Senate, To Present 2016 Budget Next Tuesday

President Muhammadu Buhari has written the Senate, seeking its permission to present the 2016 budget next Tuesday at 10am.

Senate President Bukola Saraki read the president’s letter on the floor of the Senate yesterday.

In a related development, the Senate also passed the 2016-2018 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper and approved the exchange rate of N197 to a dollar for the 2016 budget.

Pegs crude at $38pb for 2016 budget

The upper legislative chamber also pegged the oil benchmark price of 38 dollars per barrel as well as N5.7billion for the non-oil revenue projection for the 2016 budget and urged the federal government to sustain the current tempo towards increasing independent revenue and diversification of the economy.

While commending the federal government for the introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Senate called on the government to establish a database and possibly a single salary account for all its employees in order to streamline and reduce its personnel cost.

The senators also called on the president to clearly capture details of the funding of the infrastructural development stated in the MTEF in the 2016 Appropriation Bill, and urged the federal government to retain arrears of the MTEF as well as increase tax collection to a level closer to the accepted tax/GDP ratio of the economy.

It was also the consideration of the Senate that there would be a need for collaboration with the Executive for an accelerated passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, particularly those sections with implications on Joint Venture funding by the federal government (JV Cash Calls). The Senate equally approved daily crude oil production of 2.2000mbpd.

Reps To Debate, Pass 2016-2018 MTEF, FSP Today

The House of Representatives will today debate the report on the 2016-2018 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and the Fiscal Strategy Paper sent to it for consideration by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, December 8, 2015.

According to Speaker Yakubu Dogara at plenary yesterday, the House will also approve the documents today, which will therefore set the stage for the presentation of the 2016 Budget Estimates to the National Assembly by the president on Tuesday, December 22, 2015 at 10am.

A letter addressed to Dogara by Buhari, dated December 16, 2015, which was read on the floor yesterday, requested a slot of 10 o’clock on Tuesday morning for the budget presentation.

Reps: Power Transfer, PPPRA Amendment Bills Pass Second Reading

A bill seeking to institute a legal framework for smooth transfer of power from one government to another and a Bill for an Act to amend the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (Establishment) Act 2004, have all passed the Second Reading stage in the House of Representatives.

The first of the bills to scale the hurdles at plenary yesterday was a consolidated “Bill for an Act to provide for Smooth and Orderly Transfer of Power from one Government to Another, and a Framework for the Documentation and Transmission of Handover Note from one Administration to Another and to Ensure the Publication of Same in the Official Gazette and for Other Matters Related Thereto” jointly sponsored by the House majority leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and Hon. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama.

Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos), while leading the debate on the bill, said that if the bill becomes an Act, it will facilitate hitch-free transmission of power from one government to another.

Gbajabiamila blamed series of accusations and counter-accusations recorded during the transfer of power from the immediate past administration to the incumbent one on the lack of legal framework to guide the process.

According to him, the bill makes provision for both a serving president and the president-elect to have their teams on both sides who will ensure a smooth transition process.

“This is necessary for them to review the handover notes and acquire knowledge of the activities of ministries, departments and agencies,’’ he said.

On his part, the minority leader of the House, Hon. Leo Ogor (PDP, Delta) praised the bill, adding that it would address a lot of administrative issues related to power handover.

Meanwhile, Speaker Yakubu Dogara referred the Bill to amend the PPPRA Act 2004 sponsored by Hon. Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue) to the House Committee on Commerce for further legislative input preparatory to its eventual passage into law at the Third Reading stage.