• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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ICPC indicts MDAs’ finance, accounts directors in budgets frauds

Bolaji Owasanoye

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has indicted finance and accounts directors of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) over their fraudulent manipulations of the annual budgets.

Chairman of ICPC, Bolaji Owasanoye, made the indictment at a meeting in the Ministry of Finance, during his speech on ‘Transparency and Fiscal Discipline in Budget Implementation’ to Directors of Finance and Accounts and of Internal Audit of some of the MDAs.

Owasanoye said that a Systems Study and Review carried out by the commission for the 2017-2020 budgets showed that there was budget manipulation by most MDAs which resulted in MDAs receiving both appropriation and releases beyond their actual needs.

“While these surpluses were open to the risk of being misappropriated as is tradition sometime at the end of the year, the funds tied down for non-existent personnel deprived government and indeed needy MDAs of much needed funds to apply to other critical but underfunded areas, especially overhead and capital development. This tended to make budget execution problematic for government at harsh economic times,” he stated.

“The gathering was for those whom government has given responsibility for managing public finance and assets, on whom lies the responsibility for transparency and integrity of our public resources, but under whose watch and active collaboration the anomalies and distortions that results in the corruption of our public finance takes place,” he added.

Owasanoye regretted that the failure of integrity on the part of these critical watchdogs of public finance is what accounts for the under development of Nigeria, the absence of infrastructure the fragility of the economy and the near collapse of the nation state.

The ICPC boss further revealed that in 2019, ICPC reviewed 208 agencies of government that are funded from the Federal Treasury and came up with outstanding results which included discovery of N31.8bn personnel cost surpluses for 2017 and 2018, and misapplication of N19.8bn and N9.2bn from Personnel Cost and Capital Fund respectively.

“Consequent on these findings N42bn unspent surplus allocations for Personnel Cost for 2019 alone was blocked from possible abuse and pilfering mostly from health and some educational institutions. This implies that if we had covered the entire civil service structure of all MDAs the figures would be staggering”.

A summary of its findings from 51 institutions in the Health sector showed the following; Padding of nominal rolls including inclusion of outsourced staff; Warrant releases in excess of actual personnel cost needs; Inadequate budgetary overhead allocation; Inadequate or non-budgetary allocation for outsourced services and widespread misuse of Personnel Cost allocation on non-personnel related expenditure especially on outsourced services to the tune of N4.5 billion.

Others are Unspent excess balances despite abuses and misuse put at N4.86 billion; Fraudulent diversion by role players of funds through manipulation of account numbers of beneficiaries on the GIFMIS Platform ; REMITA payment system not allowing for the matching of account numbers with account names and thus making fraud easy and Inordinate balance staffing levels between Teaching Hospitals and Federal Medical Centres.

The ICPC chairman noted that the collaboration of his commission with the Budget Office is designed to put in the public domain “what we know that you know and we know that you do that undermines government agenda and fiscal projections but also to underscore the determination of the government to enforce fiscal discipline in the implementation of the 2021 budget and beyond”.