2021 Budget Funding: Senate Discovers N11bn Revenue Surplus In NCAA

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Threatens erring revenue-generating agencies with zero budget

Summons Sirika, NCAA MD over BASA, Safety Funds

Daily Metro News NG

In its bid to rev up enough revenues for the funding of the proposed 2021 budget and as well reduce deficit, the Senate, yesterday, discovered an unused revenue surplus of about N11bn in the coffers of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

At the opening of the 5-day stakeholders’ interactive session on the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditures Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), which was kickstarted on Wednesday, the Joint Senate Committee on Finance and National Planning demanded explanation on what the N11bn is meant for by the NCAA.

NCAA director of finance, Bilkisu Sani, who represented the Managing Director of the agency, had told the lawmakers that NCAA was fully sustained by its revenues, adding that it does not receive money from the Federal Government.

She noted that NCAA made 18bn in 2018; N18bn in 2019 and N8.634bn so far in 2020 as revenues, with staff strength of 1,400 and N500m annual wage bill.

Sani added that the agency consequently contributed N1.6bn, N3bn and N700m so far to the coffers of the Federal Government in 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively.

The Senate, consequently, raised questions on the N11bn revenue surplus for the 2019 fiscal year after the expenditure of the agency’s overhead cost for the year.

Sani said part of the surplus revenue is being spent on both local and foreign trainings in order to build capacity of staff to be able to execute the mandate of the regulatory agency.

Apparently, not satisfied with the explanations provided by the NCAA’s Director of Finance, the joint Senate committee asked that the Managing Director of the NCAA appear before it today Thursday with a justifiable reasons on why the Federal Government should continue to partially fund the regulatory agency given the amount of unused money in its kitty.

The chairman of the joint committee, Senator Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos West), who gave the order, said Sani’s explanations on the N11bn left fallow were untenable.

“Frivolous expenditures will not be celebrated. We need good justifications to support your expenditures and why this committee should continue to support such expenditure in this time of economic downturn,” Adeola said.

Also, the Senate has threatened to sanction any revenue-generating agency of the Federal Government that fail to appear before the Senate Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning to defend their positions as contained in the 2021-2023 MTEF/FSP at the interactive session on Thursday.

Senator Adeola made the threat after it became evident that some heads of the agencies were absent or sent in officers that cannot speak to revenue figures of their agencies with any authority.

“The 2021-2023 MTEF/FSP was sent to the Senate on July 20 for consideration by President Muhammadu Buhari preparatory to the presentation of the 2021 Appropriation Bill. And in line with the desire to achieve early passage of the budget to be in tandem with the January – December budget cycle, the Senate referred the MTEF/FSP to the joint Committee for consideration even while members are on recess.

“Any head of agency that refuse to appear before the committee to defend figures it submitted as presented by the President to the Senate risks a zero allocation in the incoming budget, among other penalties,” Adeola added.

He specifically mentioned the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), NIMASA, NLNG, Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone, Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC), and Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA).

Other agencies warned are Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), and Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC).

Meanwhile, in a similar development, the Senate has also summoned the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, to come and explain the alleged expenditures from the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) and Safety Funds domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) operated by the NCAA.

Senator Adeola gave the directive on Wednesday at the ongoing 5-day stakeholders’ interactive session on 2021-2023 MTEF/FSP at the National Assembly complex in Abuja.

The directive followed a revelation from the presentation by NCAA Director of Finance, Bilkisu Sani, on the status of BASA and Safety Funds operated by NCAA, at the interactive session.

Sani had revealed that the Minister of Aviation, Sirika, had been responsinle for the Funds by authorising expenditures from them on the developments in the Aviation sector.

The committee thereafter became furious with the revelation, saying no official can authorise spendings from the Funds except the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Sirika is expected to appear before the Joint Committee tomorrow Thursday by 11am today as the session enters second day.

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