The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says it mopped up N147 billion in 2020 alone from its investigation into the Personnel Cost of Ministry, Department and Agencies of government
The ICPC stated this through its Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye SAN at the Budget Office – ICPC Interactive Forum with Directors of Finance and Accounts and Directors of Internal Audit in Abuja.
Speaking on the theme, “Transparency and Fiscal Discipline and Budget Implementation”, he said the mop up was carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance.
He said, “Part of the outcome from 2019 System Study and Review of the Commission is the mopping up of N42b (Personnel Cost) in 2019 and N147b in 2020 respectively. The Hon. Minister of Finance through findings of the Commission of the wrong application of Personnel Cost on Overhead and Capital item issued a negative Warrant to mop up excess cash available in the Personnel Cost of the MDAs to forestall further misapplication of funds. Similar Warrant was issued in 2020 totaling N147b which was a huge savings to Government. The Year 2020 has been a challenging year with the devastating effect of COVID-19 leading to low revenue, low crude sales, low economic activities and recession among others, hence the importance of blocking leakages and wastages within the system.
On restricted Access to Personnel Cost Funds by MDAs, he said, “This was seamlessly achieved through restriction placed on MDAs GIFMIS Role Players in accessing the Personnel Cost by the OAGF which account for massive savings in Year 2020. Note that access to this account by GIFMIS Role Player is a major concern to the National Budget considering the fact that Personnel Cost takes chunk of the recurrent budget through misapplication and misappropriation of the funds.
While clarifying on Restriction of transfer from GIFMIS to Sub-TSA (on-going), he noted that, “another leakage within the system is the transfer of funds from the GIFMIS platform to MDAs’ SUB-TSA Account and Microfinance Banks. This was observed largely with Tertiary Institutions before migration to IPPIS, basically to warehouse the funds and secure them before closure. Such transfer include
“As a follow up to 2019 system study, selected online review were carried out similarly in 2020 to reassess the level of compliance with recommendations given in previous study, it was observe largely that some MDA refrained from previous infractions. For instance misapplication of the Personnel Cost on burial expenses, DTA, training, disengagement allowance, electricity bills etc were not observed. Migration of almost all the MDAs to IPPIS also assisted in this regards.
Speaking on Strict Personnel Cost Budgeting, Owasanoye said, “Government is stricter in scrutiny of actual payroll cost budget of the federal government through direct extraction of the nominal roll of MDAs from the IPPIS database for the preparation of Budget 2021 Personnel Cost. This was part of the observation made by ICPC in 2019 system study and review; that MDAs padded their personnel cost proposal to access excess funds from government far above their wages and salaries, since releases on this budget line is actual, then misapplied them for non-personnel related expenditure.
Clarify and agree with institutions status of ALL their receipts identifying those that are IGR and those that are not and provide them template for remittance into the consolidated revenue fund; Conduct a staffing audit especially for educational and health Institutions in order to establish actual staffing and staffing needs based on volume of work and appropriately right-size for cost efficiency.
“Distribution of federal regulatory circulars via both hard and soft copies to MDAs to ensure full circulation and remove the lame defence of ignorance of those regulations. Audit teams from Auditor General for the Federation should ensure exit briefing with MDAs at the end of the audit visit to reduce issues reported as infractions. DFAs and DIAs should be advised of the schedules of the audit exercise and strategize ahead in order to be able to respond fully with all documents necessary at the time of the visit.
“MDAs should be advised to issue financial reports on time to enable completion of annual audit and publishing of result on time. Sanctions should be introduced for inordinate delays. Government should avoid late releases of budget allocation, especially at the end of the year as the practice raises opportunity for frenzied expenditure, circumvention of procedure, fraud and corruption. Appropriated funds should be released in time to allow for strict compliance with procurement procedure. Otherwise deferred till following fiscal year as government is a continuum.
“The infractions established in the course of our several SSRs constitute the risks and building blocks for the inefficient public expenditure and pervasive corruption that bedevil our public finance.
The continuity of these infractions challenges our professed political will to deal with impunity characterised by the disobedience of laws and regulations.
This is an existential threat to the nation and it has already negatively impacted stability and development because funds appropriated for major infrastructure and development projects are simply diverted or mismanaged the same way thus diminishing the hope of the people and the plans and programs of government.
It starts with those of us in this room. This impunity cannot continue ad infinitum.
Nigeria cannot and will not survive it. We are at a turning point with a global pandemic whose end is uncertain, reduced public revenue but escalating citizen expectation, youth restiveness, insecurity and lack of or decaying critical infrastructure. In all of this government is striving to put money in the right place for the benefit of the people.
The least we can do is to ensure that the expectations of the government and the people are met and we get value for money.
“We believe that infractions can no longer be ignored or excused on the pedestal of everyone is doing it. ICPC is already investigating and prosecuting a number of egregious cases and we will escalate that position. We have got to the point where we will prosecute without discrimination public officers found with any, including the simplest of infractions, so that we entrench zero tolerance for budget execution inefficiency which breeds corruption.
“DFAs and DIAs are by training professionals of the highest quality of knowledge in the sector, and by your level of authority capable of enforcing compliance with these rules down the line. The country should no longer slide into poverty if only you will be firm and refuse to tolerate culpability from anyone starting with yourselves. If this system is to be sanitized and scarce Government resources is to do more with less you have to play your leadership role.
“We ask you all to work with us and commit to policing the system and driving this sanitization and reformation of the system to enable the government to meet its obligations to the public.
“It begins with you, not with anyone else. We are ready to support anyone with challenge and to uphold the transparency and integrity of our systems and processes. We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to our children and the future of our nation.
“The ICPC will continue to collaborate with all critical stakeholders towards entrenching integrity in the polity and in public finance management and governance particularly. “