Public Accounts committee of the House of Representatives, on Monday, March 1, 2021, invited the minister of finance, budget, and national planning, Zainab Ahmed, the director-general of the Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, and other officials of the ministry to explain the rationale for granting duty waivers to some companies.
One of the notable cases is the N468 million waivers allegedly granted to Saipem Contracting Ltd by the federal government.
Wole Oke (PDP- Osun), the chairman of the committee, issued the summons at the ongoing investigative hearing on audited accounts of government ministries, departments, and agencies, MDAs, and some private companies in Abuja.
Oke said that the minister and the DG should appear within seven days to clear the air on the duty waivers granted to Saipem Contracting Ltd on N468 million worth of equipment and other items it imported into the country.
He said: “Why can’t we ask the minister and the DG to give us a comprehensive list of waivers granted these companies within 14 days.
We should also invite the beneficiary companies that got waivers. “I want to see these items and the value of the duties paid on them”.
While responding to the committee’s summons, the representative of the managing director of Saipem Contracting Ltd, Melvin Ponshak Daje explained that the duties were paid directly to the equipment manufacturers.
Speaking on the activities of the company, Ponshak disclosed that Saipem is an indigenous oil servicing companies that is involved in oil facilities servicing with the major oil-producing companies in Nigeria.
He informed that the company had been involved in the oil business for over fifty years, adding that they are engaged in importation of oil-servicing equipment from all countries of the world.
Also grilled by the committee on the issue of controversial waivers and duty evasion, was the management of Crocodile Matchet Ltd. But a representative of the managing director of the firm, Ehi Osezuah, however, said that they had not imported in a long while.
Oke who had earlier noted that some of the invited companies had submitted that they have import duty exemption, however, demanded that the invited companies avail the committee the description of imported machines, value of invoices, and country of importation.
He directed the committee clerk to write to the federal ministry of industry, Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, and the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, to respond to issues that concern them.