Govt probes 21 banks over diversion of federal revenues

By The Rainbow

It is another reckoning time for Nigerian banks as the Federal Government probes their remittances of Federal revenues to the national coffers.

Virtually all Nigerian banks are involved in form or the other in the collection of revenues for the Federal Government.

The exercise is meant to scrutinise remittances of revenue by the banks engaged in the collection of non- oil revenue for the federation account.

Money deposit banks across the country would be scrutinized as their activities concerning the receipt and remittances to the federation account of taxes and duties from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) have come under question to ascertain the extent of diversion by the banks.

To put this into effect, the government has appointed one lead consultant and 52 other consultants to probe the remittances of banks appointed by the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) and the Nigeria Custom Services (NCS) into the federation account.

Chairman, Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Mr Elias Mbam at the launching of the exercise at RMAFC headquarters, Abuja on Thursday, said the commission discovered some irregularities in the remittances of revenue from some collecting banks engaged by FIRS and NCS.

He said the exercise was sequel to a presentation to the Federation Account Allocation Committee by RMAFC.

He said that FAAC at its meeting of 19 March, approved that the commission should engage consultants to verify and reconcile revenue collections and remittances by banks engaged by both FITRS and NCS in order to recover any excess deduction and stop further leakages.

He said the commission, after following due process in line with relevant provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 appointed a lead consultant and 52 other consultants to carry out verification and reconciliation exercise covering January  2008 to June 2012.

The RMAFC boss said the exercise would commence on 3 June 2013 and would be completed on 15 August 2013 when the lead Consultant is expected to submit a final report to the commission.

Specifically, he said the Lead Consultant would among other functions supervise and coordinate the activities of other consultants, verify, reconcile and ensure that all flow of revenue from collecting agencies from January 2008 to June 2012 is in accordance with the relevant agreements between the collecting banks, FIRS and NCS.

He said the other consultants would cover allocated banks and revenue sources as provided by the commission and reconcile all transfers from the Lead Banks to the federation account in the Central Bank of Nigeria and verify that the remuneration paid to each Lead and Collecting banks are in accordance with the agreements signed with FIRS and NCS.

Mr Mbam said the Accountant General of the Federation has been requested to open a special account with the CBN into which all recoveries made shall be paid, in respect of this exercise.

From this account, he said the consultants shall be paid their relevant professional fees while the balance shall be remitted to the federation account for distribution to all tiers of government.

To ensure the success of the exercise, the RMAFC chairman sought the cooperation of the FIRS and NCS, stating that the exercise was   not an attempt to probe the two agencies but to ensure that the collecting banks comply fully with the terms of their agreement with both agencies

The Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) had earlier revealed that it discovered a wide range of irregularities and will work transparently to recover every excess deduction and stop further leakages.

A total of 21 banks in the country have been contracted by the FIRS and the NCS to collect taxes and duties for the country.