The House of Representatives is set for a showdown with the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for engaging in extra budgetary spending of over $500 million from Nigeria Export Supervision Scheme Fund.
The House is also to investigate the spending by the CBN and the Ministry of Finance over another extra-budgetary spending of about N700 billion linked to the same fund in violation of section 80 of the constitution which stipulates that such funds must be appropriated before being utilised.
Adopting a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Rep. Abdullahi Sa’ad Abdulkadir on the need for urgent investigation and audit of the Nigeria Export Supervision Scheme Fund in view of the Joint rendition of account to the Auditor General of the Federation by the Ministry of Finance, the House directs its Committee on Public Account to carry out the investigation and report back within four weeks.
He said further that section 80(1) & (2) of the Constitution requires revenue that accrue to the Federation, which is not constitutionally required to be paid into a specific fund, must be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, while the Act creates a Special Fund, the balances in that Fund is exempted from being paid to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
He explained that even though the Fund is exempted from being remitted into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, section 80(4) of the Constitution requires that spending/expenditure from such Special Fund cannot be done without any appropriation by the National Assembly.
Section 80(4) of the Constitution states as follows “No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund 0f the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.”
He alleged that for the past 10 years, the Federal Ministry of Finance and the CBN have expended from the Fund without the National Assembly appropriating for such spending, saying ‘it is widely known that both the Federal Ministry of Finance and the CBN utilise the funds in the Special Fund as a sort of slush fund.”
The Action of the Ministry and the CBN he said “constitutes a gross violation of the letters and spirit of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007, the transparency intents embedded in the Pre shipment Inspection of Export Act 1966 and the Finance (Control and Management) Act.
“The extra-statutory deductions and illegal expenditure from this fund has cost Nigeria over 700 billion Naira within the last ten years. Recently over $500 million was expended from the Fund without any budgetary appropriation. In addition the Federal Ministry of Finance has failed and refused to render its account in respect of the NESS Fund to the Auditor General for the Federation.
“If urgent steps are not taken to investigate and audit the NESS Fund, Nigeria may risk the strong possibility of losing more money and the CBN and the Ministry of Finance may continue to use this Fund as a slush fund with the chances of diverting it to personal use without any public scrutiny.”