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Senate orders BPE to refund N8.7bn

The Senate has ordered the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), to remit the sum of N8.7 billion into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federation, according to an agency report.

The directive follows the Senate’s discovery of varied financial infractions, as contained in queries issued to the Bureau by the Office of Auditor-General of the Federation (AGF).

The queries are contained in the 2015 Audit Report, which was sustained by the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, and adopted by the Chamber before embarking on its annual recess in July.

According to the report, the agency committed a series of financial infractions between 2014 and 2015 financial years in excess of N8.757billion, in violation of several rules of Nigeria’s financial regulations.

One of such violations cited was the alleged non- remittance of about N4.737 billion dividends received on Federal Government Holdings, which was not remitted to the CRF.

Notwithstanding BPE’s claim in its response to the query, that all dividends received on Federal Government Holdings in the year under review of over N6.819 billion were transferred to the Treasury Single Account (TSA) in September 2015, the Senate rejected the submission for lack of documentary evidence.

The Senate report reads: “The committee observed that there was no evidence provided by BPE to show that the dividend was remitted to TSA.

 “Consequently, the Committee recommends that the Bureau remits the sum of N4,736,932,467.67 billion to the CRF, evidence of which must be submitted to the Auditor-General of the Federation and Senate Public Accounts Committee.”

Also, BPE in another query sustained and adopted by the Senate, was accused of diversion of N2.5 billion proceeds of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) from Access and FCMB banks to now liquidated Aso Savings and Loans for the financing of Staff Housing Scheme, contrary to financial regulation 3205.

The query and Senate’s resolution read: “Unauthorised transfer of N2.5billion representing PHCN proceeds in Access Bank and FCMB Accounts were diverted to ASO Savings and Loans Plc, as a condition precedent to the Staff Cooperative Mortgage, contrary to Financial Regulation 3205.

 “The committee observed that there was no approval from Debt Management Office (DMO) for the Bureau to secure a loan from ASO Savings just as it was also observed that there was collusion between ASO Savings and BPE.

 “Consequently, the sum of N2.5billion with all accrued interest be remitted to the CRF by BPE with evidence of remittance forwarded to the Auditor General of the Federation and Senate Public Accounts Committee.

“All officers involved in the transaction should be surcharged for the loss of government revenue in line with Financial Regulations 3106 and 3115.”

The Bureau, as contained in the adopted report, was also alleged of non-remittance of over N1.135 billion earned interest on fixed deposit from over N19.774 billion deposited in various commercial banks, which BPE management in its response, said was used to settle PHCN staff severance benefits.

However, the Committee in its report accused the BPE of breaching financial regulations and recommended remittance of the N1.135 billion to the Consolidated Fund.

All officers involved in the transaction should be surcharged for the loss of government revenue in line with Financial Regulations 3106 and 3115.

 “The Committee recommends that the Bureau pay the sum of N1, 135, 139, 199.77billion to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, in accordance with relevant Financial Regulations and submit evidence of remittance to the Auditor General of the Federation and Senate Public Accounts Committee,” the report said.

Also included in the query and adopted by the Senate was the alleged non-remittance by BPE of about N387.772 million incidental taxes to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) from the mandatory 10% withholding tax (WHT) collected as service charge from different investors in the year under review.

The report states: “The Committee observed that WHT totalling N387, 771,741.82 million, was not paid to FIRS despite BPE’s promise five years ago that all incidental taxes shall be deducted and remitted to FIRS.

“The committee, therefore, recommends that the sum of N387, 771, 741.82 million be remitted into the CRF by the Bureau and evidence of remittance submitted to the Auditor-General for Federation and Senate Public Accounts Committee.”

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