HomeNewsNigerian Lawmakers Grill Customs Boss over Audit Queries

Nigerian Lawmakers Grill Customs Boss over Audit Queries

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The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) faced tough questions from the House of Representatives’ Public Accounts Committee on Monday over its failure to submit audited statements for three consecutive years.

The committee, chaired by Bamidele Salam, summoned the NCS to respond to the queries raised by the Auditor General for the Federation (AuGF) on the 2017 audited report.

The queries involved the under-remittance of revenue into the federation account, discrepancies in reported revenue figures, under-disclosure of outstanding remittance, non-maintenance of bank statements and bank reconciliation statements, violation of e-payment policy, and non-submission of audited financial statements for 2016, 2017, and 2018 financial years.

The Controller General of Customs, Bashir Adeniyi, who appeared with other officers of the service, defended the NCS’s actions and presented documents to the committee.

He clarified that the Office of the Accountant General for the Federation (OAGF) remits only the Common External Tariff (CET) into the federation account, while other active revenues go to the Non-Federation Account.

He also admitted that there was an over-remittance of N1.17 billion into the federation account, which showed that there was no under-remittance of N62.24 billion as alleged by the AuGF.

Bashir Adeniyi stated that, since the inception of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), Area Commands have not maintained accounts with commercial banks, and they remit all revenue directly to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He said the NCS does not maintain treasury books 6A for revenue collections, but rather uses the repayment receipts on the Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS) platform.

He further stated that the service does not have fuel and has to fuel its vehicles for operational purposes across the four zonal headquarters and area commands.

Bashir claimed that the service submitted copies of audited financial statements and management reports for the three years under review.

However, the submitted documents revealed that the audited financial statements for the years 2016, 2017, and 2018 were presented to the AuGF in 2021, which goes against the statutory deadline of May 31 in the following year.

The committee members expressed displeasure with the late submission of the audited financial statements and the violation of the e-payment policy.

The committee chairman ordered the AuGF to present documents on other queries raised against the NCS, including the splitting of contracts, payment vouchers without supporting documents, and unretired cash advances.

The lawmakers agreed to allow the NCS to come at a later date to respond to the queries.

The NCS is responsible for collecting and accounting for customs revenue, as well as enforcing trade and fiscal policies of the government.

The service has been under scrutiny for its performance and accountability, especially in the wake of the economic recession and the need to boost non-oil revenue.

The public hearing by the committee is part of the oversight function of the legislature to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of public funds.

The committee will submit its report and recommendations to the House for further legislative action.

The NCS has pledged to improve its operations and compliance with the relevant laws and regulations in the interest of the nation.

Source: Punch

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