Senate, Accountant General probes INTELS withholding of $200m NPA funds
In a bid to instill sanity among Nigerians, the Senate and office of the Accountant General of the Federation have concluded plans to compel Integrated Logistics Services Limited (Intels) to remit all government monies in its custody into the designated Treasury Single Account.
Sources at the upper legislative chamber disclosed that the lawmakers were recently alarmed to discover that huge amounts of federal government revenue are being withheld by the company.
About $200m is believed to be in Intels custody which is yet to be remitted to NPA. This figure according to investigation, represents rents, lease and throughput fees in Onne and Warri ports where the company operates.
Between 2010 and 2016,Intels reportedly remitted close to $343m from the service boat collection which represents 27 percent of total service boats revenue it collected for NPA.
A lawmaker who spoke on condition of anonymity querried the rationale behind a private company warehousing federal government funds and spending from it.
He said aside from being unlawful, the system could lead to fraud as it took rigorous oversight work to be discovered.
”They have no right keeping government monies in their accounts. If they have spent from it without due appropriation and recourse to budgetary provision, we will get them to pay for it. There will be no compromise on that” he said.
About $1m of the amount is for lease and throughput fees while rent at Onne being owed is over N3.3b
Intels recently increased rent for some of its third party tenants from N30M to N100M in a renewed desperation to raise monies belonging to NPA which the company had allegedly spent unlawfully without recourse to current government policy. This has caused some of the tenant companies to threaten a pull out from the Federal Ocean Terminal and Federal Lighter Terminal in Onne
Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman had disclosed to reporters on assumption of office last year that the authority under her watch will not compromise on the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of the Federal Government.
Usman also told reporters late last year that all payments from lease and other contracts to NPA agreed upon in United States Dollar terms will not be changed to naira as she insists on keeping to the terms of various agreements entered into with service providers.
The TSA policy requires that all government revenues generated by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are paid into a single account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Under an amortization deal between Intels and NPA, Phase 4 port expansion programme, according to senate sources have been fully amortized while a Phase 4b for which the company has been spending NPA funds has not been fully amortized.
Some senators observed that the volume of funds being expended on the ongoing Phase 4b was unnecessary as the facility is not urgently in need to receive or ship out cargoes .
Expending scarce government funds on a project that is not of utmost priority at a time funds are needed for other critical areas of national development has been viewed as economically unwise by the lawmakers.
They posit that the existing cargoes coming through Onne port are not up to fifty percent of the port’s handling capacity thereby making the Phase 4b facility expansion a less urgent investment.
Intels is believed to have mounted pressure on the legislators to input the company’s spending and some suspected nebulous bills into NPA’s 2017 budget. This move may have increased pressure on some lawmakers who appears to favour the company’s demands.
Intels may have obtained loans in respect of some contractual agreements it had with NPA without the authority’s knowledge to ascertain value or worth of job to be executed with the borrowed funds for which NPA is required to offset.
This is suspected to be one way the company has been denying the Federal Government of its revenue as NPA has been paying interests to the company on interim certificates of credites based on claims submission made.
On the other hand, Intels does not pay interests on NPA funds it keeps which has not been applied for amortization due to budgetary limitations.
The company only remitted 27% revenue it collected for service boat on behalf of NPA while 73% percent of the collected sum have been withheld for amortization of contracts awarded and 28% being agency commission to Intels being service boat collection.
Between January 2010 and September 30,2016,jointly reconciled boat revenue collected by Intels was $1,254,725,350.
Investigation reveals that Intels is seeking the support of the Senate Committee on Marine Transport to cause the senate to insert budgetary provision for payment of debts owed by intels.
Intels not to remit the amount with a claim that it took some bank loans to undertake development projects in some of its areas of operations.
It has also come up with claims of NPA being indebted to it. A move suspected as one aimed at evading accurate remittances of NPA revenue particularly from its service boat contract into the TSA account.
NPA, according to inside sources was not part of the loan arrangement which is a reason the company is advancing for not complying with government’s directive on the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
The company had alleged that NPA was owing it $840m, a claim the authority denied, stating that it has a financial relationship that spans between January 2010 and December 31 2016.NPA claims its debt to the company is barely $600m.
For service boat revenue collection,Intels collected over $1.2b between 2010 and 2016,this is in addition to a $41,039,152 it collected as NPA revenue between October and December 2016, which has not been reconciled.
In 2016 alone, the company collected a total of $1,295,764,502 for service boat revenue.This sum has not been fully accounted for.
The two organisations have an agreement that stipulates quarterly joint reconciliation of accounts with the last of such reconciliation done in September 2016.
NPA pays 28% commission on total revenue generated from service boat operations on its behalf. The sum is inclusive of withholding tax at 10% but exclusive of Value Added Tax at 5%.
NPA’s deals with Intels includes land lease,managing agent for monitoring and collection of revenue from service boats operations in all pilotage districts,development of port infrastructure in Onne Rivers State and Bull Nose Apapa Lagos. The company is also a concessionaire and a leading terminal operator in the maritime industry.
Sources at the senate disclosed that ” We shall leave no stone un-turned in our drive to ensure that the right thing is done.