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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Reps panel probes MDAs over alleged N600bn extrabudgetary salaries, wages

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The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, PAC, is investigating 115 Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, of the Federal Government over N600 billion extra-budgetary expenditures of Salary and wages.

The Guardian reports that decision by the Mr Wole Oke-led PAC committee was based on the audit queries raised by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation from 2018 till date.

Oke (PDP-Osun) described the alleged expenditures as a clear breach of the law after meeting with officials of the Accountant General of the Federation led by the Acting Accountant General of the Federation, Mr Sylva Okolieaboh.

The Audit query reads, “Audit observed that 203 MDAs exceeded their Personnel Cost budget by N641,757455,172. 01 while 115 MDAs had Zero Personnel cost even though there was a Budget allocation for them. The sources of extra funds for salaries and wages in 103 were not disclosed, Also, the reasons for zero Personnel budget allocation for the 115 MDAs were not stated despite the fact that the MDAs under defence had annual budgets approved for them”

It advised that the office of the Accountant General of the Federation should investigate the Sources of the extra-budgetary expenditures and reasons for non-compliance with down financial regulations

It recommended that failure to justify Sources and reasons for the expenditures, “the expenditures totaling N641.75bn the officers in charge should be held pecuniary responsible”

According to the Chairman, ” this is an aberration of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, clear rape of Financial regulation and public procurement act, nobody has the power to appropriate any money to any MDAs except the National Assembly through the budget from the Mr President, before the passage of Mr President’s appropriation bill, it has to pass through stages and after the passage, it has to be returned to the Mr President for his ascent

“But we have discovered a situation where some Ministers and heads of MDAs are found appropriating funds and approving several millions of naira for spending without such coming to the parliament but relying on circulars and directives, this is illegal and we are going to stop

The Chairman consequently directed the Accountant General of the Federation to make available the list of 115 MDAs involved in the suspicious spending to the committee by Wednesday morning when the investigation would continue.

Hon Oke said that in the spirit of fear hearing, the culprits’ MDAs would be summoned to come and explained their own side of the case as claimed in the Audit Report.

Okolieaboh had expressed appreciation for the hands of cooperation being extended to his office by the parliament since he assumed office and pledged that all invitations from the parliament would receive prompt responses from his office in the National interest.

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