The Senate has accused government-owned enterprises of frustrating efforts by the present administration to shore up its revenue profile, amidst the unpleasant trend of budget deficit.
EyewitnessMedia gathered that the Senator representing Lagos West and Chairman Senate Committee on Finance, Adeola Olamilekan, made the allegation when the Minister of Finance, Ahmed Zainab appeared before the Committee.
The meeting at the instance of the Senate was called as part of its ongoing investigation into revenue remittances by Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) between 2014 and 2020 and the payment of 1% Stamp Duty on all contract awards by the MDAs within the same period.
Also in attendance at the session was the DG, Budget Office, Ben Akabueze.
Senator Olamilekan alleged that the GOEs have failed to remit over N3 trillion operational surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Fund which he noted was flagrant violation of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic and the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA),2007.
The Chairman Senate Committee on Finance who further disclosed that the Office of the Accountant has confirmed the development however blamed the latter’s office for lack of dilligence in collection of the Operational Surplus hanging in those agencies.
He said: “We discovered that 10 Government Owned Enterprises which we have identified in the beginning of trying to bring these Government Owned Enterprises and subsequently increasing to about 50 to 60 GOE.
“The reconciliation done so far by the Office of Accountant General of the Federation is in excess of over a trillion naira going to like N2 trillion thereabout and these monies are still hanging in the hand of these agencies and we have asked office of Accountant General that what are they doing to get the money into the government coffer and we discovered that they are giving them a payment notice without necessarily following up this process.
“We have noticed that the so called 80 percent of operational surplus, many of these agencies proved frivolous expenditure and they have taken advantage of the current system and refuse to remit this amount as and when due.
“We tried to audit the account of these agencies year in year out for the past five years and some of the revealation are scaring. How do we explain that an agency of government that has provision in the budget for Capital, Overhead and Personel in their audited account , they have gross revenue of N500 million and they are asking for N200 million.”
In her contribution, the Minister of Finance,the Minister commended the Committee for the ongoing probe of revenue remittances as she acknowledged that in recent times there has been noticeable increase in revenue from the agencies to the CRF as required by the law adding.
She maintained that the Executive arm of government is equally scrutinizing the application of the template of calculating and deducting operating surpluses by agencies of government to ensure that the right amount are paid to the government.
Giving clarification, the DG, Budget Office declared that the issue of operating surpluses does not apply to any government agencies that are fully funded by the government as all revenue generated by such agencies must be paid in full into the CRF.
He aligned with the position of the Senate Committee that it was illegal to spend a dime of such money without appropriation by the National Assembly.