The Senate Public Account Committee has sustained the query issued to the Federal Ministry of Finance over its alleged failure to account for N2.8bn service wide vote collected from the Federation Account.
According to the Auditor General of the Federation’s report, the N2.8bn was part of the amount meant to take care of estacodes and other allowances of officials, who represented the Federal Government in internationally organised annual board meetings, conferences and workshops.
It also included contribution to the Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries.
The AuGF records shows that out of the amount spent, payment vouchers were only raised for the sum of N113,558,372.85, leaving the sum of N2,772,214,120.42 unaccounted for.
The Senate committee, which is currently scrutinising the 2018 auditor general’s report, sustained the query raised on the unaccounted expenditure as contained in the document.
The Chairman of the committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, during the panel’s session on Thursday, expressed dissatisfaction with the alleged abuse of the service wide vote by government agencies.
Urhoghide vowed to investigate the management of the SWV by the ministries departments and agencies of the Federal Government in the 2021 budget.
The AuGF query read in part, ” Financial Regulation 601 states: All payment entries in the cash book/accounts shall be vouched for on one of the prescribed treasury forms.
“Vouchers shall be made out in favour of the person or persons to whom the money is actually due.
“Under no circumstances shall a cheque be raised, or cash paid for services for which a voucher has not been raised.
“During our audit, it was observed that the sum of N2,885,772,493.27 was released to the Federal Ministry of Finance from the Service Wide Vote.
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“This is to take care of estacodes and other allowances for representing the Federal Government in internationally organised annual board meetings, conferences and workshops, including contribution to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
“Of this amount, payment vouchers were raised for the sum of N113,558,372.85, leaving the sum of N2,772,214,120.42 unaccounted for.
“This infraction was due to the failure of the Permanent Secretary to seek approval from the appropriate authorities to incur the above expenditure, which is seemingly unaccounted for.
“The ministry may (in the process) carry out such unauthorised or unapproved expenditure that may lead to diversion of public funds for other purposes.
“It may also lead to mismanagement and underutilisation of public funds.”
But, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Aliyu Ahmed, told the committee that he was not with his official response to the query as of the time he appeared before the panel.
He pleaded with the committee to give him another time to appear before it.
The committee’s Chairman, however, ordered the Permanent Secretary to appear on Tuesday to respond to the query before the lawmakers.
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