Senate reads riot act to MDAs over audited accounts

Senate reads riot act to MDAs over audited accounts

Any agency of Government that fails to submit the report of its yearly audited accounts will henceforth face punitive measures from the National Assembly, including zero budgetary allocation, it was learnt Tuesday.

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, read the riot act to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government in Abuja, after the Upper Chamber considered and approved the sum of N238billion as the 2020 budget of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

It would be recalled that while submitting audited reports to the Clerk of the National Assembly, the Auditor General of the Federation, Antony Ayine, had advised that agencies who neglected to submit their annual audited reports should not be granted new budgetary approvals.

Chairman Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, had during the debate on the NCS’ 2020 budget lamented that the Customs is among the agencies that had failed to submit their audited accounts to the Senate.

He wondered why a fresh budget should be approved for the agency when it had clearly breached the extant law that stipulates that the Customs should submit its audited accounts to the Senate six months prior to submitting its budget.

He said that the Senate is being “scandalized and castigated” for failing to compel errant agencies through oversight to obey the law.

Lawan said that it is unacceptable for agencies of government to get new budget approvals without accounting for previous allocations as stipulated by law.

He said that the National Assembly has the right to take drastic action against erring MDAs in terms of annual appropriations.

Lawan said: “It is a sad commentary that the agencies of government have not been submitting their audited accounts. This is unacceptable, and I think we need to take drastic action here.

“This is a new dawn. We passed the budget last year and the implementation of the has started. We expect every MDA to present their audited accounts before the end of the year.

“If any agency refuses or fails without any cogent reason, we have every reason to take a drastic action when it comes to appropriation, because not to account for what you are given in the previous year is to say that you are not prepared to take a new budget.

“I’m advising MDAs especially those ones that are not up to date with their audited accounts to do so, because we could decide as a National Assembly to take punitive measures against agencies of government that are not up to date with their audited accounts.”

Meanwhile, the Senate Tuesday approved sum of N238billion as the budget of the NCS for the 2020 fiscal year.

The approval of the amount followed the presentation of the report of the Senate Committee on Customs, Tariff and Excise by its Chairman, Senator Francis Ailimikhena.

The amount is comprised of Personnel Cost N98.61 billion representing 41.41 per cent of the budget, Overhead Cost of N15.95 billion representing 6.70 per cent and capital expenditure of N123.59 billion, representing 51.89 per cent of the total amount, according to the committee.