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Senate queries PTDF's N57b backlog claim

By The Citizen
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As a result of possible bankruptcy stated by the Petroleum Technology Development Fund's (PTDF), the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) has issued the agency a seven-day ultimatum to provide details of its earnings in the last five years as well as a comprehensive list of its portfolio investments.

The PTDF Executive Secretary, Dr. Oluwole Oluleye, had said that except the N57 billion budget backlog owed the agency by the Federal Ministry of Finance was released, it would go bankrupt 'in months' and might not be able to fund scholarship of hundreds of Nigerians in foreign universities.

Oluleye had also told the Senator Emmanuel Paulker-led committee during an oversight tour of PTDF's projects that the agency has been unable to pay salaries in the past two months due to the situation.

The report of the agency's budget performance for the period January to August 2013, which was presented to lawmakers, also indicated that out of N70.9 billion budgeted for the 2013 fiscal year, only N13.7 billion has so far been released, resulting in just about 19.37 per cent performance.

However, Paulker faulted PTDF's bankruptcy claims on the ground that the agency has several other undisclosed sources of income while most of its portfolio investments are shrouded in secrecy.

Also, members of the petroleum upstream panel queried why the PTDF declared N123,205,016.77 in 'Excess of Income/(Expense) Over Expenditure' yet claimed inability to pay staff salaries and meet sundry financial obligations.