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FG, Senate strike discordant tunes over $1.03b Excess Crude fund

By The Citizen

The Federal Government and the Senate yesterday disagreed over the whereabouts of $1.03 billion Excess Crude Fund.

The disagreement followed the disclosure by the Minister of Finance, and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala that the balance in the Excess Crude Account amounted to $4.3 billion. She did not however disclose the total accrual to the account.

Okonjo-Iweala spoke at a Joint Senate Committee of Finance and Appropriation meeting on the 2013 budget and the Federal Government revenue-generating agencies.

A member of the committee, Senator Ita Enang, noted that records available to the Committee showed that the total inflow into the Escrow account was $14.06 billion, while the outflow from the account was $9 billion.

Enang said that left a balance of $5.06.
The Minister did not counter the figures released by Enang, but insisted that the balance in the Escrow account is $4.03b.

Enang had demanded from the Minister how much the country has in the Escrow account, how much is paid into the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), and what the Escrow account is used for.

Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said the balance in the Escrow account stood at $4.3 billion, adding that the Escrow account is primarily used for payment of oil subsidy.

She said: 'Excess Crude Account is a federation account matter. It belongs to all tiers of government. When we pay subsidy, it belongs to all tiers of government. So, the Federal Government, states and local governments are all partakers.'

On the status of the SWF, she noted that 'the SWF has $1 billion, adding that there has not been further payments into the SWF.

The Minister noted that though there are leakages in the economy, government has launched actions to block the leakages.

Asked how much government had paid as subsidy for kerosene, Okonjo-Iweala said that all subsidy payments were for Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

Only last week, the Chairman of the House Representatives Committee on Petroleum Downstream, Dakuku Peterside, claimed that the Federal Government had spent N634 billion to subsidise kerosene in the last three years, but Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala insisted that all subsidy payments were for PMS

Another member of the committee, Senator Bukola Saraki, asked the Minister repeatedly if subsidy payments included subsidy for kerosene, but the Minister noted that 'payment is for PMS only, it doesn't include kerosene.'

Also at the meeting, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), said the Federal Government lost N603.236 billion between January and September, 2013, adding that out of this figure, waivers on petroleum products gulped N236.88billion.

Customs Comptroller-General, Abdullahi Dikko, attributed the losses to waivers, (Import Duty Exemption) -N86.484billion; revenue conceded to the NDCC instrument-N59,555,073; import substitution and industrialization in drastic reaction in import of rice-96,945,233,060.00; revenue loss to manufacturers and assemblers (CKD/BULK)-N76,119,889,825.12 and revenue held in indemnities, Jan-Mar 2013 Rice/Sugar-N5,430,000,000.00.

Other reasons included drop in excise duty revenue due to close of some excise factories and de-excising of some excisable goods-N11,871,723,000.00 and revenue loss to WRLS (ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme) for transaction entered in the economic sub-region-N2,947,428,861.00.

Dikko told the committee that though the projected revenue for 2013 is N718 billion, only N530 billion was realized giving a shortfall of N188b.  - The Nation.