Senate probes NBET over N1.5bn unremitted fund



…..As MD says interest earned were remitted to CRF

The Senate has commenced  investigation into the alleged unremitted N1.5 billion by  the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading company  (NBET), being accrued accumulated  interests from investments in Treasury Bills.

The sleaze by  NBET was uncovered by the Senate Committee on Public Accounts on Thursday  when Managing Director of the company, Dr Nnaemeka Ewelukwa appeared before the committee   to defend the query raised by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation on the issue.

 Ewelukwa had while defending the query claimed that the then Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iwella gave approval to the Company to invest in the treasury bill and spent the interest accrued from the investment in Treasury Bills. .

But, when the lawmakers looked into the approval letter by the Minister of Finance critically, it was discovered that the Minister said “NBET is hereby granted authorization to utilize the interest earned and accruing on its investment in Treasury Bills to bost NBET’s Capitalization provided that the NBET does not utilize such monies for any recurrent expenditures.

The Minister stated this in a  letter which dated March 6, 2015 in response to the request for the retention of the interest accruing on NBETS investment in Nigerian Treasury Bills.

The query issued by Auditor general reads, ” Various analysis caried out on the investment 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 cordinating Minister of the economy which was dated March 6, 2015 and  which purportedly gave NBET retroactive authorization to retain all interest from 2014.

“The outstanding interest unremitted to consolidated revenue stands at N1. 5 billion “.

But, NBET in its response claimed that all interest earned on sitting balance were remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund ( CRF) as the approval received did not cover this component.

” The interest earned from inception till December 2014 have all been remitted , he said.

But the Chairman of the Committee,Senator Mathew Urhoghide ( PDP. Edo South),  tackled the Managing Director of NBET that only N529 million was remitted leaving about N986 million unremitted to the Considated Revebue Fund (CRF).

The Chairman said it is glaring that the query raised by the Auditor General was valid asking the agency ,to return  next week Tuesday to defend the outstanding unremitted N986 million.

The query was raised by the Auditor General in 2015 up till the time of  filing this report NBET was able to  provide receipts of N529 million out of N1.5 billion unremitted interest from investment in the treasury bills.

The balance of  about of N986 million is yet to be remitted to the Considated Revebue Fund (CRF).

The Office  of the  Auditor General in its report stated,  “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 outght 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”

In addittion to allegation of sleaze in the NBET,  the lawmakers uncovered how the Management of the government owned company paid illegal allowances to its staff such as holiday allowance , communication allowance and 13th month salary.

The query reads, “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 alllowances in the company or payback N47. 4m to the federal government coffer .”

The Managing Director of NBET however was able to present any document to justify illegal approval earned by the staff of the Company.

Also, the Senate queried  NBET over payment of alleged N14 million for courses and conferences purportedly attended by some of its staffers without any evidence to show for them .

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