OrderPaperToday – The Senate has demanded answers on a set of audit queries to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading company (NBET) which includes an unremitted N1.5billion accrued as accumulated interests from investments in treasury bills.
This unremitted amount is part of the NBET audit queries being considered by the Senate Public Accounts Committee.
Chairman of the Committee, Matthew Urhoghide, demanded for answers on Friday based on the report of unremitted accounts by agencies of government from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation.
The NBET audit queries reads: “Various analysis carried out on the investments made by NBET, it was noticed that it stopped the remittance of accrued interest on the investment in Nigerian Treasury Bills as well as as that on sitting balances on the various accounts maintained by the company in April 2014.
“This was as a result of a letter written from the office of the Coordinating Minister of the Economy which was dated March 6, 2015, which purportedly gave NBET retroactive authorization to retain all interest from 2014.
“The outstanding interest unremitted to consolidated revenue stands at N1.5 billion. The audit team observed the following issues with respect to retention on interest.”
The report also said “the request for waiver seeking to retain all interest made to the Ministry of Finance by NBET was dated 2nd February 2015 as at this date and before the approval was given by the Minister of Finance in March 2015, NBET ought to have remitted earned interest before complaint.
“It would appear that the management of NBET deliberately withheld all the accrued interest in investment treasury bills and sitting balance in anticipation of perceived approval.”
The Managing Director of NBET, Nnaemeka Ewelukwa, appeared before the committee to defend the query and claimed that the then Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala gave the approval.
The supposed approval was contained in a letter dated March 2015 which reads “NBET is hereby granted authorization to utilize the interest earned and accruing on its investment in treasury bills to boost NBET’s capitalization provided that the NBET does not utilize such monies for any recurrent expenditures.”
Ewelukwa further stated that all interests earned on sitting balance from the inception of the agency till December 2014 were remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
But the Urhoghide committee discovered that only N529 million was remitted out of N986 million to CRF while the agency was unable to provide receipt for the supposed remittances.
Asides the unpaid interests from treasury bills, the report also revealed that the management of NBET issued illegal allowances to its staff.
These allowances include holiday allowance, communication allowance and 13th month salary.
“The National Salaries income and wages Commission through its circular dated 19th September 2013, approved compensation and benefit structure for NBET contrary to this, NBET created additional unapproved compensation and benefit policy document.
“This gave rise to payment of illegal allowances to it’s staff such as holiday allowance , communication allowance and 13th month salary, contrary to the approved Salaries and allowances in the public service.
“There was no evidence to show that the additional compensation and benefit policy document was approved by the company.
“The Managing Director was asked to provide the government approval instituting these allowances in the company or payback N47.4m to the federal government coffers”, the audit report said.
Lastly, the committee queried NBET for it’s inability to provide evidence for payment of over N14million for courses and conferences held locally and internationally.
The House of Representatives earlier in the year mandated a probe of NBET over alleged corruption charges