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Buhari silent on how 265 agencies violated fiscal, audit rules’ in Audit Report

Though the presidency has introduced disclosure portal for all MDAs to publish all their financial dealings from not less than N5m on a daily basis for Nigerians to seamlessly access, observers are worried on why he had kept silent over the recent revelation by the report of the Auditor of the Federation indicting about 265 agencies of the government.

The report had disclosed high level violation of the fiscal and audit rules governing the operations of government accounts in 2017 which has resulted in more than N300 billion not being accounted for.

Recall further that the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation had last week released the 2017 report after much pressure from the public over the official delay in the release of the report after nearly two years after the end of the fiscal year.

According to the report, whereas 160 agencies failed to submit their audited accounts for 2016; 265 agencies defaulted in the submission of their audited accounts for 2017; while 11 have never submitted any financial statement since inception.

Observers were so disturbed considering the mantra of the current regime which included fighting corruption.

Clearly, by the provisions of the Financial Regulation 3210(v), chief executive officers of government corporations, companies and commissions must submit both the audited accounts and management reports to the auditor-general of the federation (AuGF) not later than May 31, of the following year of accounts.

However, more disturbing according to analysts, is the fact that the MDAs and their accounting officers are not responding promptly to audit observations till now, a situation which is made worse by the government’s refusal to create or sign the already passed bill containing sanctions.

This scenario is however, forcing observers to cast doubts over the seriousness of the government in fighting corruption when within its executive corridor, there are issues with accounting for expenditures.

In his remarks, the Auditor General of the Federation, Anthony Ayine, said “there are still some violations of statutory financial reporting obligations by parastatals.”

“Stringent sanctions, including withholding financial releases and sanctioning of the chief executive officer, should be imposed on defaulting agencies that do not render timely accounts, as provided in the constitution, financial regulations and other relevant laws.

“A number of major weaknesses and lapses in the management of public funds and resources were identified across several MDAs during the yearly audit,” he said.

Additional facts showed that the report’s findings ranged from irregular expenditures to failure to surrender surplus revenues running into billions of naira to the treasury. Also notable was the constant failure in the implementation of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) and general significant weaknesses in expenditure control, accounting, financial reporting and in the completeness and accuracy of the consolidated financial statements.

Intimidating extracts from the 2017 audit report showed that the majority of the revenue-generating agencies and other MDAs did not remit withholding taxes, value-added taxes, stamp duty, capital gains tax and pay as you earn, among others.

These official breaches, according to the report are led by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) with unremitted N7.59 billion, and followed by the National Examination Council (NECO) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with N6.67 billion and N2.29 billion, among others; the default caused significant reduction in revenue accruable to the Federal Government.