By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—THE Senate has begun a probe into how federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, utilised over N1.7 trillion Service Wide Votes allocation disbursed to them in 2017 to 2021 budgets.
It is also carrying out this holistic investigation through the Committee on Public Accounts, led by Senator Matthew Urhoghide (Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Edo South).
Speaking during a meeting of the committee in Abuja, yesterday, Urhoghide noted that beneficiary government agencies needed to give explanation on how they utilised the fund.
Urhoghide, who described Service Wide Votes, SWV, as a disbursement into shortfall in capital and overheads, said: “A Service Wide Votes, which is also known as the Consolidated Revenue Fund Charge is more or less the country’s contingency fund in the annual budget.
“It is a huge sum of money, which is kept for unforeseen expenditures. The recurrent expenditure part of the fund is what is actually referred to as the SWV, while the capital part of it is called Capital Supplementation. The SWV is domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Finance.”
He ordered the acting Accountant-General of the Federation, Okolieaboh Sylva, who appeared before the committee, to submit details of disbursement of Service Wide Votes as quickly as possible.
He said: “We want you to submit details of disbursement of Service Wide Votes, let us have it as quickly as possible, please we want speed.
“The other one that concerns you is the disbursement of Service Wide Votes from 2017 to 2021, you have not submitted the 2021 disbursement, let us have that of 2022 as quickly as possible, the reason is we have 797 agencies to deal with.
‘’We have decided to put them on hold until we get your report of 2021, so that we don’t start writing fresh letters on 2021 again.
“We need to input it into our report, let’s be able to know that you have exercise a level of cooperation with us, give us hard copies for our members to study.
“We have to take you first before any other agency, you will have to appear first week of our resumption,’’ he added.
Speaking further with journalists, Urhoghide said the agencies needed to explain how the Service Wide Votes collected had been spent, adding that the committee would need to know who authorised the disbursement of funds from Service Wide Votes, who applied for it, the authority to incur the expenditure and the supporting documents.
He said for the first time, the Senate was making inquisition into Service Wide Votes.
Recall that Senator Urhoghide had complained about the SWV, noting that they (his committee) had yet to find out how disbursement for SWV, both recurrent and capital expenditure, were being utilised.
The lawmaker said his committee has made several attempts in the past years to ensure that heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, gave account of what they got from the SWV, but noted that all efforts had been futile.