By Tordue Salem, Abuja
The House of Representatives Tuesday summoned the Nigerian Customs Service, Accountant General of the Federation and Budget Office to appear before it on Monday, to explain issues surrounding the collection and appropriation of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council 2% Ports Development quarterly Levy.
Both arms of the National Assembly, have quasi-judicial Powers, to summon any government official to give account of public funds.
The invitation followed a complaint by the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’Council, Barr. Emmanuel Jime that the main source of the agency’s revenue which is the quaterly 2% of the the total 7% Ports Development Levy amounting to N3.5billion quarterly, was yet to be given to it.
The Shippers’ Council Executive Secretary made this disclosure at the ongoing 2022-2024 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF & FSP) Interactive Session with MDAS at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.
Jime, a former member of the House of Representatives while highlighting the major challenges his organisation was facing said: “there is also the extra challenge will have, the agency responsible for the collection of that particular 2% that is been given under the current arrangement is Customs.
According to him, Custom after collection remit the revenue to “the Office of the Accountant General, “it is Customs that determines what amounts to percentage of the Port Levy; So we’re not really involved”.
Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, Rep. James Faleke directed that the Agencies involved should be invited to clarify the issue.
“ES, we have to come back on Monday on this issue. Customs will be here, budget Office will be here and the Accountant General Office to come – invite Accountant General Office on the issue of collection by Customs (Shipper’s Revenue)”, Faleke said.
Jime, a former Governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Benue State, also lamented that Shippers’ Council has been unable to access the 1% charge on export and import which is one of its statutory source of revenue since the agency was established in 1978 and sought lawmakers intervention on the matter even as he was going to take up the matter with the supervising Ministry of Transportation.
“There this statutory source of revenue, 1% charge on export and import. Since Shippers’ Council was established, that particular source of revenue has never been accessed and I’m taking it up with the supervising Ministry and it is also one area that I will ultimately be going to seek the support from the other side (lawmakers)”, he stated.
Besides, the Committee also turned down representatives of Head of MDAs who failed to appear in person for the MTEF interaction sessions, insisting that as Chief Accounting Officers of their organizations they must be the ones to attend to issues raised on their projections.
Faleke while sending back the Nigeria Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) among others, threatened that any Head of MDAs that failed to appear before it would be sanctioned while the agency would be deleted from government funding.
Also, some agencies, including National Business and Technical Eduction, Nigeria Immigration Service, Lagos International Trade Fair Complex who did not bring complete documents detailing their capital projects were asked to go and come back at a later date with the necessary details.
In his response to the complaints lodged by the agencies that the letters from the Committee did not specifically request for such details, Faleke said: “Each time we call for MTEF consideration, it is expected that we look back to what happened in the last three years before going forward.
We don’t need to write this down in black and white because you should know you are coming to defend MTEF, the procedure is very straight. The only difference in this one is that we’re looking at capital. So it is a standard.
“Ordinarily, MTEF documents are presented to the budget office by all the agencies from which they do their compilations and send to us and what they send to us include capital cost and revenue and what they want the National Assembly to do is to look at the document and approve before they are able to prepare budget.
“For all other agencies we are saying that we are looking at all the projects as submitted that make up your capital projects the way you submitted it to budget office. The same you submitted you bring it to us”.