The Ministry of Trade and Industry on Monday, November 8, 2021, could not account for the sum of N177 million being revenue generated by its department of Weighs and Measures, a critical revenue generation of the agency.
The officials who represented the Minister at the 2022 budget Defence at the Senate Committee on Trade and Industry stage managed a document they couldn’t explain on the budget performance for 2021 before seeking approval for 2022.
The failure to explain how the sum of N177 million angered the Committee, wondering what would have happened to the fund between January and September despite the 2021 budget approval for capital and recurrent for the agency.
The Senate Committee on Trade & Investment on Monday walked out representatives of the Ministry for presenting an “unreadable document” containing a N1.6 billion projection as its budget proposal for 2022.
The Committee also described the Ministry’s action as vague documentation, accusing it of misappropriating N177 million retention from its 2021 internally generated revenue, IGR.
Vice Chairman of the Committee, Senator Kola Balogun called for an end to impunity while he described the Ministry’s budget document as unreadable and an attempt to confuse Senators.
“These documents are not readable. It is very difficult for us to read it. It is also very difficult for us to make any sense out of it I think the Ministry should do better than this”, he said, adding that the revenue realized from the Department of Weights and Measures was slim.
“N500 million is too low from Weights and Measure. We were expecting that it should be tripled”, he said.
Lamenting on the situation, a member of the Committee and Senator representing Taraba Central, Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf, said the document presented by the Minister and her team clearly suggested that funds retained by the Department of Weights and Measures were misappropriated because they were not captured in figures.
According to him, “You have a projection of N1.6 billion, you realized N1.19 billion”, requesting that the Department of Weights and Measures furnish the Committee on how the money was utililsed.
“It is not what they have spent. Do they have the appropriation for what they have spent? Because all these things are happening every year. Once they retained revenue, they just go and spend it without referring to the committee of appropriation.
“For me, it is variation of the approval of the national assembly. If you don’t do that, for me, it is misappropriation, he said.
Aisha Abubakar, the minister of state for Trade and Investment, had earlier told the Senator Saidu Alkali led- Committee that the Ministry projected to generate the sum of N1.6 billion in 2021, part of which N1.19 billion was already realised between the month of January and September 2021.
She referred the Committee to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry to explain how the twenty percent retention was utililsed.
In a swift reaction, the Permanent Secretary urged Senators to excuse him as he only resumed resumed three months ago which he doesn’t have adequate information to furnish Senators.
Meanwhile, both Director Finance and Administration and Director, Weights and Measures could not explain how and what exactly the money was used for, as they were both interrupted by the Chairman of the Committee, requested that they give details of how the N177 million was expended.
Senator Alkali queried: “this is performance. You are supposed to bring the details with underlying items.
“What we are saying is, how did you spend the 20% you retained as percentage from the revenue you realised? Where are the details? This is what we are asking. How did you expend the amount you retained under your department? You have indicated here, this you have realised, this is what you have remitted to CRA and this is what you have retained. So we are asking, how did you spend the amount you retained?.
“You are not supposed to tell us this is how it is spent. It is supposed to be clearly written under a subject. The Ministry is supposed to have it under a subject, which the details are not here.
“Who give you the authority to spend N177 million and how did you spend it because you are supposed to get the approval of the National Assembly,” he further queried.