By G9ija

The Senate Committee on Public Accounts (SCPAs)has queried the Federal Ministry of Finance for failing to account for N2.8 billion service wide vote it collected in 2018 from the Federation Account as estacodes and other allowances for representing Nigeria in internationally organised annual board meetings, conferences and workshops.

Of this amount, payment vouchers were raised for the sum of N113, 558,372.85 leaving the sum of N2, 772,214,120.42 unaccounted for.

The Chairman of the SCPAs, Senator Mathew Urhoghide, relied on the 2018 Auditor General’s report to query the unaccounted expenditures.

The query reads: “During our audit, it was observed that the sum of N2,885,772,493.27 was released to the Federal Ministry of Finance from the Service Wide Vote. This is to take care of estacodes and other allowances for representing the federal government in internationally organised annual board meetings, conferences and workshops including contribution to the Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Of this amount, payment vouchers were raised for the sum of N113,558,372.85 leaving the sum of N2,772,214,120.42 unaccounted for.

“This infraction was due to the failure of the permanent secretary to seek approval from the appropriate authorities to incur the above expenditure, which is seemingly unaccounted for. The ministry may carry out such unauthorised or unapproved expenditure that may lead to diversion of public funds for other purposes. It may also lead to mismanagement and underutilisation of public funds.”

But, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Aliyu Ahmed, told the committee that he could not respond to the query at the moment, pleading with the committee to give him another time to appear before it.

The committee, therefore, asked the permanent secretary to appear on Tuesday (tomorrow) to respond to the query before the lawmakers.

Urhoghide insisted that somebody must account how the money was spent.

He expressed dissatisfaction with the abuse of service wide vote by government agencies and vowed to investigate its management by the MDAs in 2021 budget.