Reps summon Finance Minister, demand details of N6.7trn subsidy for…

August 10, 2022
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The House of Representatives on Tuesday resolved to summon the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed for failing to provide relevant documents on the N6.7 trillion fuel subsidy for 2022 as well as details of the public fund approved for payment of fuel subsidy claims from 2013 till date.

Chairman, Special Ad-hoc Committee investigating petroleum subsidy regime, Hon. Ibrahim Aliyu issued the notice during the resumed investigative hearing held at the National Assembly complex, Abuja.

Hon. Aliyu who spoke during an interactive session with the Minister’s representative, Director Home Finance in the Ministry, Mr Stephen Okon and representatives of some oil companies, disclosed that the Minister should appear on the 16th August, 2022 with all the relevant documents in subsidy claims.

While describing the Minister’s recent statement that the country will require N6.7 trillion for service subsidies as worrisome, Hon. Aliyu said: “This Committee requested from you to know the total amount released from the Consolidated Revenue Account as subsidy payments from January 2013 to date.

“The total amount released from other accounts other than the consolidated revenue account to subsidy payments from January 2013 to date, breakdown of beneficiaries; companies that enjoyed releases from consolidated revenue account and other revenue accounts as subsidy payments. Identify each beneficiary with the amount sent to them month by month covering the period between January 2013 to date.

“All correspondences between the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria regarding subsidy payments from January 2013 to date; evidence of lodgement of forex into Consolidated Revenue account by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation now Limited as revenue from January 2013 to date.

“Outstanding deposits expected from the NNPC to the consolidated revenue account indicating periods, years and dates. Statement of account of all bank documents, evidence of NNPC and its affiliates, subsidiaries transfer of funds to the Treasury Single Account in line with the directives of the President and commander in chief; statement of accounts operated by NNPC and subsidiaries under TSA regime.

“List of commercial bank accounts operated by NNPC and subsidiaries before the advent of the TSA, balance of forex yet to be transferred to TSA by NNPC and its subsidiaries.

“We are giving the minister of finance one week to appear before this committee and make presentations,” he said.

Meanwhile, the lawmakers also faulted Sahara Energy Resources (registered in Nigeria and incorporated on 15 March 1999), for discrepancies observed in the documents submitted, whereby Sahara Trade (a foreign company not registered in Nigeria) signed a letter of authorisation on behalf of Sahara Energy.

The lawmakers who expressed grave concerns over the uncertainty over the ownership status of some of the oil marketing companies involved in the industry vowed to interrogate the status of Sahara Group of Companies, Sahara Trade, and Sahara Energy Limited from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

In his intervention, the immediate past Vice Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Hon. Mark Gbillah said: “In the agreement, it said that Sahara Energy Resources, a company incorporated under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria both on oath, the representative of Sahara said it is not a Nigerian Company.

“So, Mr Chairman, I want to move a motion that they provide us with the incorporation status of Sahara Energy Resources, including their address, shareholding and profile of the company.

“My concern here is that an entity which does not meet the turnover that is indicated as a requirement for this transaction is being engaged to participate in this critical expenditure of our commonwealth and the fact that this company has no presence in Nigeria.”

Also speaking, Hon. Sergius Ogun (PDPEdo) said: “This is about the third time we are inviting them and we have asked them for documents and I do not know if they have submitted them. On the other hand, we have to let them know that we have teeth to bite.”

In his contribution, Hon. Usman Ismaila (APC-Kwara) who underscored the need for accountability in the utilisation of public funds, argued that: “the matter on the ground today has to do with our economic situation. We invited them and they refused to show up.

“We have to let them know that despite our tight schedule we have made out time to be here, so the heads of these institutions have to come here and explain to us how the huge sums of money are spent on oil subsidy.”

On his part, Hon. Jonathan Gbwefi (APC-Nasarawa), “The Chief Accountant or Permanent Secretary should have been here to represent the Ministry of Finance instead of sending a Director. I am quite disappointed and I hope that Nigerians are seeing what is happening.”

While ruling, Hon. Aliyu who resolved to adjourn the investigative hearing to Wednesday assured us that the investigative hearing was not aimed at witch-hunting anybody but to make things straight.

“We are only discharging our constitutional responsibility and we are empowered by law to summon anyone and their failure to do so might lead to serious sanctions or consequences,” he stressed.

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