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How MDAs Squandered ₦‎3.8 Trillion Under Buhari – Report

Dozens of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government misused N3.8 trillion they received from the Service Wide Votes (SWV) in four years, according to a…

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Dozens of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government misused N3.8 trillion they received from the Service Wide Votes (SWV) in four years, according to a Senate report.

Service Wide Votes is the government’s contingency fund in the annual budget.

The Senate Public Accounts Committee had probed the disbursement of N5 trillion from the SWV to more than 200 government agencies between 2017 and 2021, when ex-President Muhammadu Buhari was in power.

The committee, chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide, invited 207 government agencies for the investigation, but only 119 agencies appeared.

The panel presented its report to the Senate during Wednesday’s plenary and its recommendations were adopted.

Urhoghide, while presenting the report, said his committee after investigation discovered that many agencies collected fund from SWV without recourse to the National Assembly committees that is mandated by law to oversight the agencies.

He said some of the MDAs did not make formal requests for the money that was sent to them by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.

He said where the approval of Mr. President was sought and obtained, some MDAs used the resources for unrelated expenditure purpose.

The senator said some MDAs collected the fund for projects that were already budgeted for in the Appropriation Acts over the years.

He said, “Hundreds of Billions of Naira were claimed to have been used for the purposes of paying salary shortfalls whereas such agencies had already collected appropriation for personnel emolument and were on the IPPIS platform.

“In some instances, huge sums Of money were thrown at agencies which they didn’t apply for/or are not in the know of where the money came from and for what purpose.

“The IPPIS intervention towards meeting insufficiencies or shortfalls in Personnel Costs has been bastardized and running into huge sums of money needing legislative scrutiny.

“Most of the MDAs involved in the period under review deliberately avoided the Committee’s invitation for appearance and refused to make submissions, perhaps for lack of satisfactory explanations on the utilization of the funds released to them.”

The senate, after adopting the committee’s recommendations, urged the Executive to use supplementary budget approach to meet emergencies instead of Service Wide Vote, which it said amounts to affront/erosion of the approval powers of the National Assembly.

The committee also recommended that the Auditor-General for the Federation should be given full access by the Accountant General and other MDAs to audit Service Wide Vote expenditures annually and report to the National Assembly.

It also called for in-depth investigation into the operations of IPPIS to stern the rising cases of irregularities in the system.

Some of the affected agencies are: Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Ministries of Interior, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Transportation, Health, Works and Housing, Information and Culture, Mines and Steal Development, Police Affairs, Defence, Youths and Sports, Petroleum and Aviation.

Others are: State House, Budget Office, Presidential Fleet, Nigerian Army, Navy, Airforce, NAFDAC, Civil Defence, Presidential Amnesty Programme, FERMA, NEMA, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Debt Management Office, INEC, North East Development Commission (NEDC), Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA), National Examination Council (NECO), among others.

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Job Losses, Factory Closures Loom As Unsold Goods Pile Up — MAN

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AGAINST the backdrop of sustained pressure in the foreign exchange market and high cost of production, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN has indicated that inventory of unsold goods is escalating to levels now threatening the existence of companies operating in the production sector of the economy with attendant job losses.

Findings show that as of the weekend the foreign exchange market had recorded over 254 per cent plunge in the value of the naira since flotation of the currency by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in June 2023.

Recall that the naira traded for N471 per dollar in the official I&E market on June 13, 2023 before the floatation of the currency, but exchanged for N1,665.50 to a dollar as at February 23, 2024 on the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM), indicating a depreciation of more than 253.6 per cent over the eight-month period. The forex crisis is also stoking inflation, and coupled with high energy costs, purchasing power has continued plummet, stifling demand for goods.

Speaking on the impact of this development on the manufacturing sector, Director General, MAN, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, said: “There are reports that across the board, many warehouses and plants of many manufacturing firms are stockpiled with unsold goods manufactured last year. “The development is as a result of the devastating effects of the exchange rate crisis, inflation, fake and sub-standard goods, smuggling and other macro-economics challenges.”

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CBN Lifts Ban On BDCs, Introduces New Operational Mechanism

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In a major development aimed at financial stability and strengthening the naira, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) plans to resume its weekly intervention in the country’s foreign exchange (FX) market through the Bureau de Change (BDC) operators.

In 2021, the central bank, in a bid to achieve its mandate of safeguarding the value of the local currency, ensuring financial system stability, and shoring up external reserves, announced the immediate discontinuance of foreign currency sales to Bureau de Change (BDC) operators in the country.

However, the resumed intervention, which would reportedly commence today for funding as well as Tuesday for collection, will see the apex bank inject FX into the subsector in a bid to rescue the naira from further depreciation against major currencies, particularly the US Dollar. The collection will be at designated CBN branches in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and Awka, while details of the naira accounts to be credited for funding bidding will also be made available today.

CBN is also expected to publish the list of eligible BDCs to benefit from its funding using certain compliance criteria.National Executive Council of Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) hinted on the latest developments through a memo to its members over the weekend.

The association also warned members that it will no longer be business as usual under the new supervisory regime of the central bank, as any infringement or infraction would result in outright revocation of license and prosecution.

ABCON said through the association’s various engagements with the central bank, in conjunction with ABCON’s strategic partners, CBN had agreed to its request, under the bank’s supervision, to inject liquidity into the market through a weekly intervention beginning today.

CBN assured ABCON that the new circular on the Revised Regulatory and Supervisory Guidelines to BDCs, which was introduced over the weekend, was only a draft exposure that required the association’s inputs before the release of the final guidelines by the apex bank.

To that effect, the letters of the guidelines were not cast in stone, the association’s leadership told its members, who had been worried over the sweeping reforms in the document, which, among other things, prescribed N2 billion and N500 million minimum capital for national and state BDCs, respectively.

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