Nigerian News

FG, recover $205m unremitted funds

The Evangelist
December 12, 2022

THE recent discovery of $205.01 million unremitted to the Federation Account by oil firms calls for serious scrutiny. According to reports, the discovery was made by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission through joint efforts with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. With public revenues crashing and debts mounting, the government should adopt a zero-tolerance attitude towards unremitted funds.

At many points, the fiscal behaviour of the Nigerian government confounds the world. Strapped for cash, incurring massive deficits, facing rising costs, and piling up debt, yet it demonstrates a baffling lethargy in collecting huge amounts owed to the treasury; it does not block revenue leakages, or move to improve its pathetic tax system. Instead, it relishes piling extra burdens on the already over-taxed, and on the vulnerable.

The RMAFC’s latest discovery typifies this self-subversion. The agency said it had recovered from revenue-generating agencies, banks, and corporate organisations over N192 billion, which included N74 billion between 2008 and 2015; as well as N118 billion between 2016 and 2019, with the help of the EFCC.

The $205.01 million is due from some oil and gas companies, which refused to remit same to government coffers as requested by the RMAFC and the EFCC, who had uncovered the withheld funds. Brazenly, instead of duly remitting the funds after being found out, the culprits filed lawsuits, claiming that the two agencies were not authorised by law to request for the withheld funds.

Though shocking, this is not the first time that government agencies and other organisations mandated by law to remit money into the Federation Account would refuse to do so and curiously, the government would look the other away. In this case, the RMAFC, having drawn attention to it, the relevant government agencies should have acted swiftly to recover the outstanding sums. Instead, the government is borrowing to pay workers’ salaries, and to service debts!

For instance, the Federal Government has made no serious moves to recover the $62 billion outstanding from six international oil companies despite a Supreme Court judgement in October 2018 ordering the firms to pay up. The court directed the government to immediately take steps to recover all revenues lost to oil-exploring and exploiting companies due to the wrong profit-sharing formula used since August 2003.

Similarly in May 2021, the Senate Committee on Finance revealed that 60 government-owned enterprises failed to remit a total of N3 trillion in six years, contrary to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

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