AuGF report: Senate defeats cash payment of N2bn from staff guidance agency

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The Senate Public Accounts Committee called the alleged failure of the National Guidance Agency to properly withdraw N 1.9 billion advances to some of its staff as unacceptable.

The Committee also disagreed with the agency that 129 million Naira was paid to some staff instead of paying the money directly into their accounts.

The panel explained that NOA’s actions violated the provisions of the Federal Government Circular on Electronic Payments (Ref No. TRY / A8 & B8 / 2008 OAGF / CAD / 026 / VOL.11 / 465 dated October 22 2008).

The Senate Committee made this observation while examining the 2016 report of the Auditor General of the Federation at its last meeting on Thursday.

The panel alleged that the agency did not attach the supporting documents used for the N2bn disbursement to the documents submitted to it.

Committee chair Senator Matthew Urhoghide, according to panel work, obtained by our correspondent on Monday, said the agency only presented newspapers to justify spending that was not acceptable.

But NOA chief executive Garba Abari pleaded for more time to allow the agency to seek suitable vouchers to support the spending.

Abari said he expressed shock upon seeing details of disbursements made by his predecessors in the AuGF report.

Agency officials who accompanied Abari to the Senate committee could not justify paying the extra 129 million naira to the workers when they could be paid through their bank accounts.

The Committee was not convinced by the documents presented by officials insisting that they did not effectively justify the disbursement of the N129m.

The Committee therefore instructed the DG to provide it with the relevant documents used to make the various payments at the next meeting.

The panel then adjourned the meeting to May 27, 2021 to allow the NOA to come back with the necessary documents.

The AuGF request addressed to NOA read in part as follows: “The following observations were made: – (a) A sum of N1.9 billion, in cash advanced to certain members of the staff of the Agency, was not was withdrawn as of December 31, 2014.

“In 2015, additional advances amounting to N 108.4 million were recorded, bringing the total to N 2 billion.

“The practice of not canceling advances granted to staff contravenes the provisions of Financial Regulation 1405.

“The regulations state that accountants are responsible for ensuring the prompt repayment of all advances by installments or otherwise.

“In addition, the register of advances was not properly kept and the pension file was not kept in accordance with Financial Regulation 1404.

“It requires every accountant in a ministry / extra-ministerial office and other branches of government to ensure that advance account registers are fully indexed and kept up to date to record advances issued and all collections made. ”

However, the NOA in a written response to the AugF’s question said: “Upon careful review of our books, it was found that the numbers are program spending and should have been under spending after retirement and not to be capitalized and carried forward statement of financial position in the general purpose financial statement

The second question on cash payment N129m stated: “Examination of Agency payment vouchers revealed that payments totaling N 129,036,700.00 violated the provision of the circular on electronic payment Ref No. TRY / A8 & B8 / 2008 OAGF / CAD / 026 / VOL. 11/465 of October 22, 2008.

“The circular states that all federal government employees in Nigeria must open an account with a commercial bank into which all payments owed to them must be made.

He added that under no circumstances should the central payments manager collect cash from the bank for disbursement to a government official or contractor.

“As a result, the expenditure cannot be accepted as a legitimate charge on public funds.

“The Director-General should justify the failure to comply with the regulations in force. Otherwise, the agents who authorized the payments should be penalized in accordance with Financial Regulation 3128. ”

But, in its written response, NOA said: “The payment in question was an accumulation of several payments made over a period of time while the agency was carrying out its various programs.

“The urgency and nature of the Agency’s program sometimes requires it to use the program’s accountant to pay money to people who may not have an account or who are time-constrained and the circumstances to quickly access their bank because most of these programs are time-limited.

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