Representatives summon BPE, NOGFZA and others over massive revenue loss in oil and gas free zones
The House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee on Monday summoned the heads of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), the Nigeria Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (NOGFZA), the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) and the Federal Inland Revenue Services. (FIRS) on the loss of billions of naira in revenue from companies operating in oil and gas free zones, as stated in audit queries issued by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation.
The Committee also ordered its clerk to publish the bureau’s said audit requests against the failing agencies in three national dailies for the public, as well as the president, to see.
The committee had based its decisions on reports from the Auditor General of the Federation detailing several offenses committed by government ministries, departments and agencies that had been submitted to it for legislative action.
The Chairman of the Committee, the Hon. Oluwole Oke (PDP, Osun) when resuming the survey of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on Monday, lamented the attitude of relevant government agencies which he said abdicated their statutory responsibilities to generate revenue for the government while Nigeria goes full steam ahead in seeking loans from foreign countries and creditors to fund the nation’s annual budgets.
He said the purpose of the publication was to enable Nigerians and President Muhammadu Buhari to see and know about these agencies that are sabotaging the government’s efforts to improve the lives of citizens.
He lamented that a situation in which the country continues to suffer a loss of revenue due to the non-issuance of receipts for payments made to the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority, fraudulent practices on the issuance of certificates of acceptance on capital allocations by the Inspection Division of the Ministry of Trade and Industry was regrettable and unacceptable.
“We invited all the regulators; Federal Ministry of Industry, Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority, Onne, Standard Organization of Nigerian and they are supposed to appear today. But they are not here. All the companies listed by the regulators, some of them are here, but the regulators aren’t there. From the evidence presented by these companies, we found out that a company’s capital cost allowances went from 4 billion naira to 33 billion naira in one year and they brought the certificate here for us to see . We called the Ministry of Industry to confirm whether they had issued the certificate or not. If you are issued a certificate for a foreign good, a good acquired outside the country, at least there will be import duties, there will be the receipt. Ministry of Industry, did you inspect the asset before issuing N33 billion certificate? These are the questions we are asking the Department of Industry to come and answer. They refused to come.
“The Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority collected dollar money from licensees and refused to issue them a receipt. All the licensees who appeared before this committee said that they had not received receipts. Oil and Gas Free Zone, come and tell Nigerians why you didn’t issue them receipts and where is our money? The Minister of Finance has said individually that we will continue to borrow money to finance our budget because we have revenue shortfalls and because we are not able to collect the revenue that we should have collected. Parliament cannot give up. The difference between tax evasion and tax avoidance is very small. So our decision is that I want us to publish all queries in three national daily newspapers and all relevant regulators and licensees who allegedly paid XYZ,” the president said.
He added that while the committee is not looking to cast witches out on anyone or any agency, it is however interested in knowing if the enabling laws are no longer active and obsolete so that Parliament can enact new ones. to improve performance and economic growth.
Oke also ruled that the Chief Executive of the Office of Public Enterprises must appear in person to answer the questions issued against his agency, just as he should appear with the certificate of acceptance of the capital allocation.
He led the immediate publication of the agencies’ audit requests in three national dailies while their officials are expected to appear before the committee within 14 days of publication.
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