30 January 2013

Nigeria: Reps Query FG Over N302 Billion Ecology Fund

Abuja — The House of Representatives has queried the Federal Government over a whopping shortfall of N302 billion of Ecological Funds.

The House further accused the Federal Government of violating the Financial Act 2006 by using Decree 36 of 1984 as the guideline for the distribution of the fund.

This directive was given Wednesday by Chairman of the House Committee on Environment, Uche Ekwunife, during an investigative hearing to determine the effectiveness and efficiency in the management of the Fund.

She said the committee was mindful of the use of the fund for the provision of loans to some states and federal agencies for projects not related to ecological matters.

The committee further directed that the Accountant General's Office and the Budget Office should separate the Ecological Funds from the Federation Account in other to give way for transparency and judicious usage of the funds.

She also ordered that the allocation of funds to the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, which is on first line charge of the Federation Account, should be released on a monthly basis as opposed to the present system of quarterly payments.

The chairman in her speech, noted that the one percent allocated for the use of the Accountant General for the computation of inflows from January 2004 to June 2012 was contrary to the two percent specified in the Federation Accounts Act 2004.

"This, therefore, resulted to understatement of the figure which accrued to the tune of N302, 358, 388,317.81," she said.

She also queried the illegal, transfers of N93.7 billion in 2009 from the Ecological Funds to Consolidated Revenue Fund to finance the acceleration of capital budget advances to states and local government to meet revenue shortfalls and third quarter Developmental Fund Warrant.

She further said only N50 billion was refunded, leaving a balance of N43.7 billion unpaid.

Ekwunife further revealed that another loan of N60.7 billion was taken from the fund by the federal and state governments "for purposes not related to ecological problems, adding that a balance of N30 billion was left unpaid.

According to the lawmaker, another illegal deduction of N20.1billion was made between January 2003 to December 2011 for debt servicing. She added that all the deductions were made without approval of the National Assembly.

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