ACCOUNTANT GENERAL PROBES INTELS WITHHOLDING OF $100M FG REVENUE

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…Insists on TSA compliance
The office of the Accountant General of the Federation is set to compel  Integrated Logistics Services Limited (Intels) to remit all government monies in its custody into the designated Treasury Single Account(TSA).
Intels is alleged to be operating in violation to a Federal Government directive on TSA. Aside the AGF Office ,Intels  non compliance has attracted interest
The issue has also created a sharp division among some top government functionaries and lawmakers. While some are sharply positing that Intels remits all government monies, some others are joining to help the port operator evade compliance.
Sources at the upper legislative chamber disclosed that lawmakers in the senate are divided into two over this. Some were recently alarmed to discover that huge amounts of federal government revenue are being withheld by the company.
About $100m 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 including revenue collected from service boat operations.
Between 2010 and 2016,Intels reportedly remitted only about $300m 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 scrutiny 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.
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 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 was repaid at a sum amounting over $400m have been fully amortized by NPA.
Phase 4billion with a contract sum of about $2.7bn for which the company has been spending NPA funds has not been  fully completed and repaid for by NPA.
Some senators observed that the volume of funds being expended on the ongoing Phase 4bn 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 office of Accountant General of the Federation and observers.
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 debt of $700m with NPA into the authority’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 amount borrowed and interest payable 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 credit based on claims submission made.
The company only remitted 20% revenue it collected for service boat on behalf of NPA while 80% percent of the collected sum have been withheld for payment of contracts awarded and 28% being agency commission to Intels for service boat collection.
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.
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 $700m, a claim the authority denied, stating that it has a financial relationship that spans between 2010 and  2016.NPA claims its debt to the company is barely $600m.
For service boat revenue collection,Intels collected over $1b between 2010 and 2016.
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.

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