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Senate probes financial council over N258m extra-budgetary spending

The Senate has begun a probe into an alleged spending of N258m by the Financial Reporting Council in Nigeria as personnel cost in its 2017 budget without the approval of the National Assembly.

The Senate Public Accounts Committee based its decision to investigate the FRC on a query from the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation as contained in the 2015 to 2018 AuGF report currently being checked by both chambers of the federal legislature.

The AuGF query read in part, “We observed from our audit, that the council incurred the sum of N339,834,586.00 as against N81,245,107.00 contained in the 2017 approved budget.

“This resulted in an extra-budgetary expenditure of N258,589,479.00 on personnel cost.

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“This non-compliance with the Appropriation Act was due to the failure of the executive secretary to seek approval for supplementary budget from the appropriate authorities, that is, through the Ministry of Finance and National Assembly.”

The Executive Secretary of FRC, Daniel Asapokhai, defended, the extra money spent was to augment the agency’s personnel cost for the fiscal year.

He said, “For the year 2017, the sum of N81m was appropriated as government subvention for personnel cost for the council.

“The amount in question was to augment the council’s personnel cost from for the fiscal year in question.

“The council customarily prepares its budget at the beginning of every year detailing both Internally Generated Revenue, and government subvention. This is usually sent for approval before implementation.

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“The council has an approved salary structure which it pays from the IGR.

“The amount referenced by the auditors as over expenditures not approved was staff salary funded via IGR which is contained in the approved budget.”

The chairman of the senate committee, Senator Mathew Urhoghide, nevertheless, asked the executive secretary of FRC to present the approval for N258m extra-budgetary expenditure by the National Assembly.

The executive secretary promised to send the document backing the expenditure to committee secretariat as evidence for the spending.

Urhoghide decried the incessant cases of extra budgetary spending by federal agencies and promised that his committee would ensure that the practice was properly check-mated.

He said, “We will ensure that all cases of extra budgetary spending are thoroughly investigated. It is a matter of constitution that agencies which must spend more than what was approved for them, should revert to the National Assembly.

“Many of the MDAs have not been coming for approval for extra spending and this has to stop,” Urhoghide added.

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