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Budget Defence: You can’t spend N72m on 2 cars, Reps tell NIPSS

…ask NIPSS, ASCON to produce proof of expenditure

By Emman Ovuakporie

The  House of Representatives Committee on Governmental Affairs on Wednesday told the director general of the Nigeria Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Jonathan Jumah that his agency cannot spend the sum of N72m on two cars in 2019.

House of Representatives

The Rep  Hussaini Sulaiman Kangiwa (APC, Kebbi),  led committee also demanded that the both DG NIPSS and the Executive Secretary of the Administrative Staff of College furnish the committee with proofs of payment for all items listed as procured in their 2018 budget performance reports.

The lawmakers issued the queries during a budget defence exercise involving the agencies with the lawmakers raising issues appropriate accounting reports as well as transparency of revenue generation and expenditure.

The lawmakers while examining NIPSS’ documents observed that spending a total N72m on just two cars was meant to serve as project vehicles.

The DG, Jonathan Jumah in his response said the mistake was indicating the vehicle type in the document, arguing that the vehicles were meant for project monitoring and that the Institute could decide to change the type and specification to SUVs.

Rep Yusuf Adamu Ikara from Kaduna state told him that the cost of the vehicle having being specified was exorbitant at the rate of N36m each.

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This position was again stressed by the chairman, Rep Kangiwa said: “whatever was received was government money belonging to Nigerians and they need to know how their money is expended”.

“The cost for the vehicle is highly exorbitant because I’ve not seen anywhere in Nigeria where a Camry car would cost N36m. And we’ve not seen any Camry product that’s SUV being produced except sedan. No matter the model, it can’t be beyond 2017, 2018 or 2019”, Kangiwa noted.

The lawmaker urged the DG to adhere strictly to the principles of federal character in recruiting staff for the Institute, noting that a look at the nominal roll suggests otherwise.

The DG, however, responded saying that many of the resource persons are engaged on contract basis as they come to deliver lectures and get paid instead of permanent employment by the institute.

He pointed out that staff who retired, got sacked or who died since 2016 are yet to be replaced which has created gaps in the nominal roll.

“We hope that the ministry of Budget and National Planning will accept to fund the recruitment that’s currently needed”, he said.

On revenue generation and the possibility of becoming self-sustaining, the DG said while the Institute charges N9m for each participant, they pay just N4m while government bears the cost of the balance.

In his ruling, the committee chair said that the Institute has to provide proof of expenditure on items listed as procured in the 2018 budget, saying: “I’ve directed the committee clerk to ensure that all the things listed in the documents are backed by receipts”.

“It’s not enough for you to come here and tell us you spent N20m, N50m and N100m on items and you expect us to look at them I say okay. We have to see evidence of procurement by way of supporting documents, and we must have that before we can consider your requests for 2019”, he said.

The committee also took on the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON), about whom members found some unusual miscalculation in the budget performance of 2018.

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Also noticed was the absence of IGR of the College on its budget performance report by members who asked that the DG, Mrs Cecilia Umaru Gaya to notify the government of its IGR which was spent as running cost.

However, upon providing the figures, it was discovered that a total of N998.5m was generated by the College in 2018.

Asked how the money was utilised, the DG said clients pay the College for services, saying that it’s only when the services are rendered that surplus can be declared remitted as income from the College.

Generally, the College generated 998m and spent 980m leaving N18.162m as balance remitted to the consolidated revenue account.

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