The Public Account Committee, (PAC), of the House of Representatives has grilled the Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo along with Heads of its Parastatals and top officials of the Ministry on several queries from the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation.
The issues ranges from issuance of capital allowances to several companies without proper documentation to back them up, non rendition of audited accounts, S well as expenditure from Service Vide Vote from 2013 to date.
The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Oluwole Oke (PDP, Osun) explained to the Minister that before the coming of the Finance Act, only Permanent Secretaries were being invited to answer such queries, adding that with the coming into effect of the 2020 Finance Act, invitations are now being extended to Ministers.
He clarified that the mission of the Committee was to bring Heads of agencies under the Ministry that have refused over time to respond to invitations to come and answer queries from the Auditor General, but rather consistently give one excuse or the other for their failure to honour such invitations.
According to him, “these people are appointees of the President through your office. By the provisions of the constitution, the President has often come to the National Assembly and yet, his appointees refused to come. IF they cannot do the job they are asked to do, they should resign because there are those ready to do the job.”
“We did not want to get to the level of issuing warrant of arrest for the Heads of agencies. We felt that if we invite you and ask you to come with them, they will respect you and come. We were right, today, they are here with you.
“We want them to come and explain to the Nigerian people how they spent public resources at their disposal. Is that too much to ask? If the President will come to the parliament, why wont his appointees? It is for accountability and transparency, the Parliament is not after anyone, even as you are here today physically, the Director General of the Standard Organization of Nigeria, SON, is still not here, he has been avoiding the Committee, he has always been seeking for an extension of time for our invitations”,Oke said.
The Minister however appealed to the Committee to give him and his team more time to fine tune their documents and come back to them for proper defence of the audit queries.
He stated that the issues raised in the queries were just being brought to his notice at the hearing, stressing that he would need time to sit with his officials and the Permanent Secretary and prepare a more comprehensive answer to the queries.
The Minister assured that he would personally come back to the Committee with the Permanent secretary for the presentation. The Committee therefore obliged him in the spirit of fair hearing.
In the documents presented before the panel, it revealed that the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment had issued about 4,672 certificate of capital allowance worth about N7,865,186,245,398.81 to 2,203 companies between January 2017 and December 2021.
The documents also revealed that within the same period, the Ministry recorded what they described as disallowance (finding after an audit that a business or individual taxpayer was not entitled to a deduction or other tax benefit claimed on a tax return) of N101.553 billion.
Capital Allowance is the practice of allowing a tax payer to get tax relief on capital expenditure by allowing it to be deducted against their annual taxable income.
It is akin to a tax deductible expenses and are available in respect of qualifying capital expenditure incurred on the provision of certain assets in use for the purposes of a trade or rental services and effectively allow a tax payer to write off the cost of an asset over a period of time.