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Petroleum Tax Interest: CACOL demands probe of alleged ‘missing $9.5m’

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The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has backed the Nigerian Senate’s move to probe the alleged missing $9.5 million interest which accrued to the Federation Account from Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT) Investment.

The PPT applies to upstream operations in the oil industry. It is particularly related to rents, royalties, margins and profit-sharing elements associated with oil mining, prospecting and exploration leases.

The Senate is scrutinizing the report of the Auditor-General of the Federation, Anthony Ayine, which concluded that the principal sums deposited, the tenor and rate of interest, were shrouded in secrecy.

The Senate Public Accounts Committee (SPAC) has ordered the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, to appear by Thursday.

In a statement, on Wednesday, Debo Adeniran, CACOL Chairman quoted the AuGF as saying during the examination of transfers to Foreign Excess PPT/Royalty and Foreign Excess Crude Accounts, it was observed that in 2016, $6 million and $3.5 million were credited to the Foreign PPT/Royalty and Foreign Excess Crude Account as interest on funds’ investments.

“The authority for placing the funds which yielded the above interests totalling $9.5m in the deposit account, the principal sums deposited, the tenor and rate of interest were not made available for audit verification.

“This observation had also been a subject of my reports since 2017 without any positive response from the Central Bank of Nigeria. Records made available for audit further revealed that the balance in the foreign PPT/Royalty and Foreign Excess Crude accounts as at 28th December 2016 were $0.00 and $251,826 respectively”, Ayine said.

CACOL lamented how most of the MDAs flagrantly disregard the directives of the National Assembly and the country’s Auditor-General (AuGF) on submission of audited accounts for necessary vetting and scrutiny.

The body observed that the trend is not peculiar to the MDAs only, as both the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) and other existing financial laws are either inadequate or contradictory in addressing modern challenges posed by corruption in the country.

“The reason for this inconsistency is not far-fetched as deliberate loopholes exist in our statutes and other regulatory enactments that allows for not only impunities but also make corruption attractive and tempting since most of our approach against corruption is aimed at apprehending after the crime(s) rather than aiming at prevention as it is being done in saner and more advanced climes.

“With the advancement in technology today, most of the looting or financial manipulations would be effectively prevented and detected ab initio if we focused more on prevention and greater accountability and independence of organs saddled with oversight and embrace e-governance as a matter of urgency.

“This is no doubt, in line with our previous calls for the audit law and other useful legislation that are already begging for speedy consideration and passage in the National Assembly for ages to be accorded due attention so that the fight against official corruption could become a thing of the past in the country”, the statement added.

Petroleum Tax Interest: CACOL demands probe of alleged ‘missing $9.5m’

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