Senate has uncovered how Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) formerly known as Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) paid N200 million subscription without vouchers to United Kingdom (UK) firms. According to the Senate, the contract fee was paid to UK firms without the letter of advice from Ministry of Justice in line with Circular Ref No SGF/PS/CIR/625/1227 which states that,” all Ministries Department and Agencies (MDA) of government entering into agreement on behalf of the Federal Government with foreign countries and their agencies to make reference to the Federal Ministry of Justice for necessary advice and vetting to x-ray all agreements which has financial political or social obligation on Nigeria which are of scientific or technological import that requires ratification.”
The companies namely PLATTS and PLATTS, Thompson Reuters, were said to have rendered online patent right for data/information gathering such as Crude Oil/Product prices, Vessel Freight rates and tracking. The Senator Matthew Urhoghide, led Senate Committee on Public Accounts is carrying out the investigation following the report of the Auditor General for the Federation that is currently being considered by the Committee. The Committee is currently considering the 2016-2018 Auditor General’s report. Speaking on the development, the Chairman of Senate Public Accounts Committee, Senator Mathew Urhoghide stressed that the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) must appear before the Committee and defend the allegations raised in the Auditor General’s report.
According to him, although the infraction was committed when the agency was known as Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), but that does not mean that the agency will not answer for infractions because it has changed name. In it’s written response, Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) said, ” Due to nature of the service rendered, it does not require the advice of Federal Ministry of Justice. The Agency is allowed access to the site upon evidence of payment. In other words, payments are made upfront as soon as the Agency is invoiced for the next payment circle which is usually annual. “Since the payments are in foreign currencies, the PPPRA 283 .authorises the CBN to effect such payments on its behalf and thereafter advises the Agency on the exchange rate used for the posting into our cashbook.”
The query read, “RRN200,670,992.36 Financial Regulation 601 states, “All payment entries in the cash book/accounts shall be vouched for on one of the prescribed treasury forms. Vouchers shall be made out in favour of the person or persons to whom the money is actually due. Under no circumstan0.ces shall a cheque be raised, or cash paid for services for which a voucher has not been raised. Circular Ref No SGF/PS/CIR/625/1227 requires all Ministries Department and Agencies (MDA) of government entering into agreement on behalf of the Federal Government with foreign countries and their agencies to make reference to the Federal Ministry of Justice for necessary advice and vetting to x-ray all agreements which has financial political or social obligation on Nigeria which are of scientific or technological import that requires ratification. We further observed that, the sum of N 200,670,992.36 (Two hundred million, six hundred and seventy thousand, nine hundred and ninety-two-naira, thirty-six kobo) was paid to 2 companies Platts/McGraw International Financial and Informa UK Ltd as Subscription for intelligence gathering for the agency.
” No due process was followed in the engagement of these multinational companies as there was no evidence of contracts award and agreement.
There was no payment voucher raised for the payments in contravention of Financial Regulation 601, as the CBN was only advised to make payment by transfer of funds in foreign currency on the prevailing market rate.
The audit teams consider this open ticket operation as susceptible to financial manipulation as there was also no letter of advice from the Ministry of Justice in line with extant regulations. This anomaly was due to the failure of the Executive Secretary to ensure that internal control procedures are properly followed. Risk The Agency may incur unauthorised or unapproved expenditures for which payment vouchers are not produced for audit in line with the provision of the law. Such expenditures may not have been incurred in the public interest.”