*N22.2bn released to PTF, N24.6bn to MDAs from 2020 Capital budget
*Intervention funds to State govts stand at N17 billion
*As Auditor-General report indicts NCDC of N1.6 billion financial recklessness
By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
A total sum of N63.8 billion was released to respond to the coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic deadly attacks between March 1 and June 30, 2020, the federal government said yesterday.
The released fund however recorded a shortfall of N20.097 billion from the N83.9 billion proposed by the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19 in its budget.
The disclosure was contained in an Interim Report of the Special Audit of Federal Government of Nigeria’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic for the Period, 1st March to 30th June, 2020 submitted to the Clerk to the National Assembly by the Auditor-General of the Federation, Anthony Ayine.
The report as seen by our correspondent showed that out of the N63.8 billion, N22.2 billion was released to the PTF and N24.6 billion was released to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) from the 2020 Capital budget.
Similarly, N17 billion was made available as Federal Governments financial intervention to State Governments on COVID-19 just as N1.9 billion was obtained from public donations into the five dedicated commercial bank accounts and the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
“A total of N83.9 billion was budgeted by the Federal Government for the response to the pandemic and the expected sources to fund this budget were as follows; N16.9 billion from the 2020 Budget, N32.5 billion from the COVID-19 Special Account/Levy and N34.5 billion was to be funded through donations from the public and private sectors”, the report stated.
The report further highlighted other funds mobilized from various sources as at June 30, 2020 to implement COVID-19 intervention activities
“N30.1 billion raised by Coalition against COVID-19 (CACOVID) and is under their direct management.
N110.05 billion in cash and in kind was raised by twelve International Development Partners and their intervention efforts are on-going in collaboration with the PTF. N21 billion was raised by the NNPC and its Oil and Gas Sector partners and is under their direct management”, it stated.
According to the Auditor-General, the interim report covers findings from the audit of transactions amounting to N4.9 billion as at June 30, 2020 (N191 million at the PTF and N4.7 billion at participating agencies).
The Office added that “a breakdown of the Agencies and entities responsible for the transactions is included within the report, and audits of the participating agencies remain ongoing at the time of publishing this interim report”.
The document however revealed gaps in documentation, low utilisation of funds allocated for the containment of COVID-19, no sufficient and appropriate documentary evidence of donations, failure to submit procurement documents for post-review, no sufficient and appropriate documentary approval for funds disbursed, insufficient documentary evidence of expenditure, improper procurement procedures, on-retirement of cash advances, funds utilized on project unrelated to COVID-19 and non-distribution of food items.
The report also indicted the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for failing to keep proper accounts of financial expenses, donations and other activities amounting to N1.6 billion.
It stated that: “NCDC paid the sum of N19,257,650.74 to some members of staff for the shipment, clearing and distribution of donations received. The NCDC was unable to account for these items as records showing particulars of donors, nature of items donated, and list of beneficiaries were not presented for audit scrutiny.
“It was observed that the sum of N1,147,891,839.87 was spent by the NCDC on the procurement of various goods and services. The procurements were not recorded on the Nigeria Open Contracting Portal (NOCOPO). This is contrary to the procurement guidelines issued by the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP).
“Audit observed that NCDC disbursed a sum of N233,200,000.00 as special allowances to some members of staff from COVID-19 fund without approval of the Head of Service or the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission.
“Examination of financial records of NCDC showed that the sum of N100,001,970.00 was recorded as expenditure on salaries and allowances for ad-hoc staff. It was however observed that NCDC could not substantiate this claim with records detailing names of ad-hoc staff, evidence of engagement/appointment nature of services rendered, and amount paid to each of them.
“It was observed that NCDC paid a sum of N118,864,813.20 to some members of staff as cash advances for the procurement of goods and services that should have been procured through proper award of contract.
“This procurement method was contrary to Financial Regulation 2302(ii) which requires that “On no account shall cash advances be use in place of Local Purchase Order or Job Order for the procurement of store locally”.