Why we don’t need National Assembly approval to release $1 billion from ECA — FG

There is no going back on the supposed instructions by the 36 states governors for withdrawal of $1 billion from the excess crude revenue account for the fight against Boko Haram, despite dissent by Ekiti State counterpart, Ayo Fayose, the Accountant General of the Federation, AGF, Ahmed Idris, said Saturday.

Mr. Idris was speaking in Abuja at the special Federal Accounts Allocation Committee meeting for December where members resolved to share a total of N609.96 billion for the month.

The meeting was held a week earlier than usual to allow the three tiers of government pay their workers on time before the coming Christmas season and New Year celebrations.

Giving details of the allocations, Mr. Idris said gross statutory revenue stood at N549.5 billion, which was higher by N106.5 billion than about N443.05 billion realized in October.

The AGF said there was a decrease of about $69.49 million in revenue due to a reduction in crude oil production for the month by about 1.75 million barrels.

However, with average crude oil price increase from $48.66 per barrel to $52.07, the AGF said, made up for the shortfall, with the country earning extra $3.41 from every barrel of oil exported for the month.

He identified facility maintenance, sabotage and force majeure declared at the Bonny export terminal by Shell as some of the issues that negatively impacted crude oil production during the month.

On non-oil revenue, he noted a significant increase in earnings from import duty, company income tax, CIT, and Royalty.

The balance in the Petroleum Profit Tax, PPT account stood at about $133 million, while Value Added Tax, VAT revenue was about N77.209 billion, from N80.42 billion, after deduction of cost of collection by the relevant agencies.

Consequently, total distributable statutory revenue for the month, including VAT stood at N609.96 billion.

A breakdown of the revenue shared for the month showed that the Federal Government took a total of N248.23 billion, or 52.68 per cent; 36 states (N125.9 billion, or 26.72 per cent; 776 Local Government Council N97.07 billion, or 20.6 per cent, while N43.22 billion went to the oil producing states as 13 per cent derivation.

Besides, the revenue agencies, namely Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, received N5.24 billion or 4 per cent; the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS,N4.23 billion, or 7 per cent, and the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR N3.65 billion or 4 per cent as cost of collection.

ECA Withdrawal

Although the balance in the excess crude revenue account remained at $2.317 billion as at December 15, the AGF said the $1 billion the 36 state governors approved last week to procure arms to fight Boko Haram was yet to be withdrawn.

“There is a process that needs to be followed before money is withdrawn from the account. The instruction needs to be given before money is taken. Unless it is taken, the balance in the account remains the same as at the reporting date, which is December 15, 2017,” he explained.

On whether there was budgetary appropriation by the National Assembly for the withdrawal of the $1 billion, the AGF said since the governors of the 36 states of the federation had reached a consensus before giving approval, no other requirement was necessary.

“Ordinarily, savings in the ECA should have been distributed to the three tiers of government, who are the owners of the money. So, if the same owners decide that part of the money be utilised to provide security for life and property in the country or make the system work, I don’t think there is any issue in that,” he said.

“The entire Federation have decided. There is an instruction and directive to that effect. There is a consensus; a common position and no dissenting voice, we (FAAC) have no option than to go with the directive as given,” he added.

Asked about Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, who issued a statement in the media to reject the decision by the Governors’ Forum on the withdrawal, the AGF urged the governor to direct his protest to his colleagues.

“I don’t know about Ekiti State governor as a dissenting voice. He should have made his position known to the Governors’ Forum. His dissention should not come to the AGF, or on the pages of media. He is entitled to his opinion though. But, he should direct it to the appropriate forum,” he said.

On the details of what the money would be utilised for, the AGF told PREMIUM TIMES to direct its inquiries to the appropriate government agency responsible for the exercise – the military.

“I am not part of the military. I am not in the theatre of war. I do not know their needs. The military know where to apply the money. That is why the question should be directed to them,” he said.

Giving an update on the payment of the Paris Club loan refund, the AGF said so far 27 of the 36 states have received their refunds, while the others were still in process of being paid.

The chairman, Finance Commissioners Forum, Mahmood Yinusa, said with the early distribution of the revenue for December, the challenge would be for the various states to ensure their workers were given a good Christmas with prompt payment of the salary for the month.

SOURCE: Premium Times