The House Committee on Public Accounts has begun an investigation into the multimillion-dollar debt owing to the federal government by terminal operators at the country’s seaports. The house is also looking into the Nigerian Port Authority’s alleged failure to account for billions of naira in government funds under its supervision.
As a result, the committee has requested the NPA’s management to explain why the payments from terminal operators have yet to be recovered and sent to the Federation Account.
Based on the NPA’s financial statement for the 2019 financial year, the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation submitted 12 audit queries.
The NPA has responded to only one of the queries which bother on the terminal operators’ indebtedness to the government to the tune of $852.094m and N1.897bn.
The query quoted the NPA to have said that the sum of N269.410m out of the N1.8bn had been recovered, while N1.6bn “invoices processed on the encumbered areas remain unpaid.”
The NPA said, “The sum of $504,663,452.37 is volume change on fixed lease fee payment by APMT arising from clauses in the concession agreement between NPA and APMT out of the total sum of $852,093,730.77.
“Bills raised on encumbered areas, which remained unpaid is $19,169,459.00: The following has been paid-GMT-$54,707,700.08, unpaid penalties- $11,922,642.68 and unpaid VAT-$28,693,707.07.”
The committee, which was dissatisfied with the response, ordered the NPA’s management to reconcile their stance with the OAuGF’s and give evidence of remitting the recovered N269.51 million and $92.534 million to the treasury.
The MPs also asked for a contract agreement/service level agreement, a list of all terminal operators, and a detailed schedule of lease costs, throughout fees, and GMT that make up the total sum owed to the government by the operators.
The committee also stated that the erring terminal operators would be invited to attend and explain why they were not paying the taxes and levies, while the NPA would offer specifics of community-related difficulties that prevented concessionaires from accessing the encumbered areas.
The committee required the authorities to submit detailed lists/details/schedules of debtors, detailing the outstanding obligations against each of the defaulters, based on overdue estate rent, shipping due, and service boat of N32,266,183,590.8bn and $67,425,429.88.
The committee’s Chairman, Oluwole Oke, stated that the panel had instructed the “NPA to provide us with a detailed list/details/schedule of debtors who owe $27,977,479.97 in shipping and service boat dues.” Each debtor’s name must be listed alongside the collected amount and outstanding debt.
The committee also wants to know what is happening with legacy debts and whether any of them have been remitted to government coffers.