The prevalence of tax fraud, evasion and other financial irregularities especially in the administration of government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs have been broached again as the Bureau of Public Enterprise had a field day recently at the Senate for defrauding the system of ₦8.7bn.
As a result of an investigation by the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, the alleged fraud is a result of tax evasion reaching the sum of ₦387.7 million from the mandatory 10 per cent WHT collected as service charge from different investors in the year under review, financial infraction between 2014 and 2015 as hinted by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation, non-remittances among other violation.
In specifics, apart from the allegation of financial infractions between 2014 and 2015, the BPE is indicted for non-remittance of ₦4.74bn dividends received on Federal Government holdings.
Another damning allegation indicts BPE of diverting ₦2.5bn, proceeds of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, from Access Bank and First City Monument Bank to the now liquidated ASO Savings and Loans, to finance of staff housing scheme, contrary to Financial Regulation 3205.
The indictment read thus,
“Unauthorised transfer of ₦2.5bn 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.”
When it looked like the allegations were over, another audit report pointed to a case of the bureau not remitting ₦1.14bn earned interests on fixed deposits in various commercial banks. The average sum kept at these commercial banks ranged from ₦19.77bn each.
BPE, in its response to the queries, had it that all dividends received on Federal Government holdings in the year under review totalling ₦6,819,388,791 were transferred to Treasury Single Account in September 2015.
Regarding the diversion of dividends derived from commercial banks, BPE has it that the funds were used to settle PHCN staff’s severance benefits.
The upper chambers of the National Assembly disagreed with the bureau’s defence due to a lack of documentary evidence. An excerpt of Senates argument is below:
“The committee observed that there was no evidence provided by BPE to show that the dividend was remitted to TSA.
The Senates verdict
The Senate had therefore ordered the Bureau of Public Enterprise to remit all disputed sums reaching ₦8.7bn back to the Consolidated Revenue Fund with a documentary confirmation from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
What you should note
The National Assembly has embarked on series of investigations on Government MDAs in recent times with damning revelations following.
This oversight function is empowered by sections 88 and 89 Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution which states that each House of the National assembly has the power to investigate the conduct of any parastatal or official responsible for administering any Act of the National Assembly or in charge of disbursing funds.