By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, has announced that it has remitted N360 million to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as value added and withholding taxes collected on behalf of the Service between 2006 and 2010.
The Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi made this disclosure on Wednesday at a meeting on compliance with reporting obligations even as he charged licencees in the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) to fully discharge their reporting obligations.
According to Amadi, NERC demonstrated its commitment to such obligations by being the first Federal Government agency to fully subscribe to the Freedom of Information Act and have a dedicated link to the Act on its website.
He gave a breakdown of the amount remitted during the period under review as N206.7 million as withholding tax and N153.6 million as value added tax.
He said that the Commission was aware of the need to guard its integrity jealously as the most valuable asset of any regulator. “A regulator should comply with reporting obligations especially as they relate to the integrity of public finance. Tax remittance is a key component of public finance audit,” he noted.
The NERC Chairman, however, declined to join issues with the Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr. Samuel Okura, over statement credited to him that NERC was among 41 Federal Government agencies that have not opened their books for audit and preferred to believe that the Auditor-General may have been quoted out of context.
He noted that: “I believe the Auditor-General may have been quoted out of context. We have been having good working relationship with the Auditor-General’s Office as far back as 2005 when we started operations.
“The Commission has a copy of the Auditor-General’s Office Audit Reports 2006 to 2008 and that of external auditor up till 2009. We are awaiting the 2009 and 2010 Audit Reports that were completed by the Auditor-General’s Office in March 2011.
“As at the time the Auditor-General was quoted at the National Assembly as saying that the Commission was among the defaulting 41 agencies of the Federal Government, his staff were with us auditing our books.”
Amadi said he wrote the Auditor-General on January 31, 2011, barely one month of assumption of office at the Commission, to expand the scope of audit work to cover both capital and recurrent expenditures with effect from last audit in 2009 to December 2010.
“As I indicated in my letter, the purpose of the request is to enable the Commission have a professional opinion of the Auditor-General of the Federation on the state of affairs as to the reliability of the accounts and processes on both the capital and recurrent expenditures of the Commission.”
The NERC boss added that, “A good way of obstructing audit process is not by requesting for expansion of audit.
The Auditor-General may have been quoted out of context and we are not interested in joining issues with a sister Federal Government agency, especially on this issue.”
He said that the Commission was up-to-date in its statutory reporting obligations, including quarterly reports to the National Assembly and the Presidency. “We are guided by higher commitment to public integrity,” Amadi added.