Auditor General asks agriculture ministry to spend 3.8 billion naira on suspended RUGA


Abuja – The Federation’s Auditor General’s Office questioned the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for spending a total of 3.809 billion naira on the rural grazing areas program suspended without presidential approval or Assembly credit national.

The petition is one of eight audit requests against the ministry in the Federation Auditor General’s annual report on internal control non-compliance issues / weaknesses in government ministries, departments and agencies. Federal Government of Nigeria for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019. ‘

The OAuGF had questioned expenditures totaling N60,795,898,225.84 by the ministry.

Federation Acting Auditor General Adolphus Aghughu presented the report to National Assembly Clerk Ojo Amos on September 15, 2021, while Senate and House Public Accounts committees began an investigation into the requests.

The federal government introduced the RUGA regime in May 2019, but was forced to suspend it in July of the same year due to widespread criticism that followed.

According to the OAuGF, the ministry, in violation of the presidential directive suspending the program, would have launched and disbursed 3.433 billion naira without due process.

The request said in part: “Ninety-five (95) payment vouchers were collected and paid by the RUGA Intervention Fund between August 1, 2019 and September 13, 2019, for a total of 3,433,984,692, 66 N, and the above payments were initiated and paid without due process. after the presidential directive suspending the RUGA project.

The ministry also paid an additional amount of N 375,785,893.75 to certain individuals and companies of the RUGA Intervention Fund through 13 payment vouchers without approval, according to the Auditor General.

According to the report, the payments include 202.7 million naira and 160 million naira paid for transport and other expenses in support of victims of banditry in Zamfara state, and a down payment for outreach visits. and advocacy with the state governor, respectively.

The report quotes the ministry’s leadership as saying: “The action is regretted and is also being investigated.

The office, however, blamed the two expenditures on weaknesses in the internal control system of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The Auditor General therefore recommended that withdrawals from the RUGA Intervention Fund be reimbursed into the coffers of the federal government because they were in violation of the laws in force and the financial regulations of the country.

The report also charged the ministry with extrabudgetary spending of around 48.425 billion naira on contractual liabilities, adding that despite a budget release of 98,044,134,611 naira, representing 99.07% of its 2018 capital allocation, the ministry failed to take the necessary steps to pay eligible contractors, which led to an outstanding contractual liability of N48.425 billion.

The office also accused the ministry of embezzling the sum of 7.737 billion naira allocated in the first quarter while paying for the 2018 investment projects, which were fully funded and released.

The request said in part: “There was no acceptable justification for the use of the capital release of the 1st quarter of 2019 to pay for the 2018 projects”.

The Auditor General therefore demanded that the permanent secretary of the ministry be asked to validly justify the payment of fully funded projects from the 2019 versions.

The office also demanded that the money be recovered and returned to government coffers with evidence forwarded to the National Assembly’s public accounts committees or sanctioned in accordance with financial regulations.

The audit report also accused the ministry of failing to deduct and remit over 89 million naira of stamp duty on contracts in violation of the Federal Treasury circular which requires all MDAs to deduct and remit duty. 1% stamp on the contract agreement before payment is made to the Recipient.

The report further alleged that the ministry paid a value added tax of N24,799,539.17 directly to contractors, in violation of paragraph 234 (ii) of the Financial Regulation (2009), which states that “any loss of revenue tax resulting from direct payment of VAT and WHT to the entrepreneur or failure to provide VAT and WHT due and remit them to the Federal Tax Service by an extra-ministerial ministry / department will be recovered from the statutory allowance the failing extra-ministerial ministry / office and other branches of government. “

The Auditor General further accused the ministry of allegedly violating the federal government’s electronic payment policy as contained in the government circular on electronic payment Ref. N ° TRY / A8 / B8 / 2008 of October 22, 2008.

The office said the ministry paid naira 700,179,314.37 to people other than the direct beneficiaries of these payments through eight vouchers, adding that the ministry’s response to the spending was that “direct payment could not not be made to beneficiaries as they had not yet been registered on the GIFMIS Platform; however, efforts are underway to complete the registration process.

The report also accused the ministry of failing to deduct and remit the withholding tax and value added tax of N 8,886,291.47 from two contractors to the relevant tax authorities, as required by current regulations.

Punch

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