*** Says FG has released the sum of N493.92 billion, representing 6.5% of the Personnel Cost for January and February
*** Explains how monies in the account shrunk from $350 million to $71.8 Million
***As Senate demands the Identity of Lawyer paid $4m as Consultancy Fee on Excess Crude Account
By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – THE Accountant General of the Federation, AGF, Ahmed Idris told the Senate Tuesday that three months after the National Assembly passed the 2020 Appropriation Bill, the Federal Government was yet to release a single kobo for the execution of capital projects in the budget.
Disclosing this Tuesday in Abuja when he appeared before the Senator Olamilekan Adeola, All Progressives Congress, APC, Lagos West led Senate Committee on Finance, the AGF explained to the Senators that even though the Federal Government has begun the implementation of the recurrent component of the 2020 budget; it was yet to release any amount out of the N340 billion it planned for the first quarter of the year.
Recall that the Senate had on 5th December 2019 passed the 2020 Appropriation Bill to the tune of N10.594 trillion.
The passage was after the consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Appropriations as presented by the Chairman, Senator Barau Jibrin, All Progressives Congress, APC, Kano North.
The passage according to the Senate was to return to December to January budget cycle and to ensure that there is certainty in the budget and its implementation.
The Federal government in the 2020 budget signed by President Muhammadu Buhari proposed N2.465 trillion for capital expenditure.
The AGF who was before the Committee to brief the Lawmakers on the dwindling status of the Excess Crude Account, disclosed that only the sum of N20.786 Billion has been released for what he referred to as “Capital Supplementation”.
Idris who explained that no amount has been released for real Capital Project said that the Cash Management Office(a department in the AGF Office) was working on the release and that hopefully the process will be concluded by next week, adding that the FG has released the sum of N493.92 billion, representing 6.5% of the Personnel Cost for January and February while N59.77 billion released for consolidated pension; N46.6 billion for overhead cost.
According to him, Personnel Cost -N493 billion (16.5%) , Consolidated Pension – N59.77b, overheads – N46.65 (9.5%), Capital Supplementation – N20.76billion.
But, when the Committee probed further, the AGF said that N340 billion would be released in the first quarter which will be first tranche for the Capital budget.
On the dwindling status of the Excess Crude Account, the AGF who gave a breakdown of how monies in the account shrunk from $350 million to $71.8 Million, said that the balance in the excess crude Accountant as at January 2020 was $325 million, the National Economic Council (NEC) agreed to invest $250 million into Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and $4 million was paid as professional fee to an unknown lawyer.
Idris said, “the inflows into the Excess Crude Account have been fluctuating due to the positive and negative variance in the price of crude. The Transfer into the account has witnessed downward trend in view of the low oil prices, particularly from year 2015 to date.
“The highest excess inflow of the sum of $17.344 billion was recorded in 2008 while the lowest excess inflow of the sum of $0.276 million was recorded in 2015.
“The weighed average price in 2008 and 2015 was $103.67 and $39.04 respectively. The balance in the ECA as at 2nd March, 2020 is $71.813, 941.84.million.”
According to the AGF, the last expenditure from the account was the sum of $250m investment in the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, just as he explained that the expenditure was with the backing of the National Economic Council chaired by Vice President, Yemi Osibajo.
The AGF who disclosed that another payment of $496million was made from the ECA for the purchase of Super Tucano Aircraft in 2018, said that other expenditure was the payment of $4 million this year as professional fees for lawyers that worked on Paris Club funds.
The AGF also said that another $1.9 billion was taken from the ECA as Paris Club refund to some states.
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee has asked the AGF to forward before it, details of all the expenses particularly the identity of the lawyer who received the payment of $4million as professional fees for the management of excess crude account.
Adeola said, “the Committee will want you to furnish us with identity of Lawyer who collected $4 million from excess crude as consultant fee.”