*Can’t pay workers’ salaries, fund scholarships
BY JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU & JOSEPH ERUNKE
ABUJA—THE Petroleum Technology Development Fund, PTDF, weekend, said that the Federal Government was owing it a total of N57 billion appropriated for it in the 2013 budget, saying the development had negatively affected the agency such that it was already owing two months workers salaries.
Similarly, the agency said it had temporarily suspended funding of scholarships for students under its responsibility until the Federal Ministry of Finance releases the said amount.
PTDF Executive Secretary, Dr. Oluwole Oluleye, who disclosed this to the Senator Emmanuel Paulker–led Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), during the committee’s oversight tour of the agency’s projects, regretted that his organisation was owing its workers two months salaries, due to the cash crunch arising from unpaid N57 billion.
The development, he added, had also made the agency not to offset the required financial bills of many of the students enjoying its scholarships in various universities abroad.
Oluleye reminded the Senate committee that multi-billion dollar statutory “signature bonus” payments have been withheld from PTDF over the years.
“PTDF is not the one people used to know in the past. It is now a different PTDF without funds.
“We (PTDF) have managed to keep the scholarship students afloat and I have had to travel to some of the schools to explain the challenges and they (foreign universities) have been very understanding,” he said.
He added: “PTDF cannot pay salaries. We only managed to pay junior staff. If funds are not released, within the next two months beginning from this month, we may close shop.”
He disclosed that his agency had written severally for the release of the debt but regretted that all had been without success.
The agency’s budget performance report for the period, January – August, 2013 made available to newsmen showed that PTDF, in its “Income” category of N70,991,361,152 budgeted for the 2013 fiscal year, only N13,751,331,413.06 has so far been released to the agency resulting in a dismal 19.37 % budget performance.
In the “Expenditure” category, for Capital Projects, N45, 796,132,227.44 (budgeted), N4,997,709,140.53 (released) – 10.91 % budget performance. Capital Programmes, N18,718,034,101.07 (budgeted), N5,232,492,258.43 (released) – 27.95 %. budget performance. Personnel emoluments, N4,693, 500,000 (budgeted), N2,880,833,143.38 (released) – 61.38 % budget performance. Other Overhead Costs, N1, 636,950,000.00 (budgeted), N517,091,853.95 (released).
Speaking at the occasion, Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Emmanuel Paulker, faulted PTDF’s bankruptcy claims on the grounds that the PTDF has shrouded in secrecy its portfolio investments and other sources of income. The management board of the PTDF present at the occasion all denied the allegation.
Senator Paulker faulted the anticipatory budgeting practice of the PTDF, saying the practice was criminal and negated the procurement Act.
He said:”What happened to your investments and portfolio? You cannot say because signature bonuses have not been paid, you are suddenly broke and cannot pay salaries and fund scholarship abroad. I think it is an indictment on the PTDF and you are being economical with the truth.”