Thursday, October 15, 2020 6:43 am
By Steve Osuji
CLASSIC UNFORCED ERROR: We are used to not getting proper report of accounts from our MDAs. Just as it had become the norm for us to live with a putrid police system (until now), so did we not expect our revenue yielding government agencies to account to us.
The Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, is among the chief culprits; yet it is one of the biggest cash cows of the sovereign.
When therefore you see so many containers and ocean liners and giant cranes and so much exertions in our vast sea ports, do not be overly joyous thinking that our treasury is swelling. No, actually a small fraction of the huge revenues get to the commonwealth. Most of it is buried under overhead costs and expenses.
But a few days ago, the elegant Hadiza Bala Usman who heads the ports in the past four years had made a show of presenting his parastatal as keeping the books and earning huge revenues for the country.
Zoom the newspaper clip below. The attempt at rendering account turns out poor and wonky.
Consider the loud headline: “NPA generates N1.02 trillion revenue in three years.”
First, the dates don’t add up neither do the numbers.
First, 2016 to 2019 would make up four years and not three. Annual revenues figures are listed for each year. So we are looking at about N1 trillion revenues yield for a period of four year.
An average of N250 billion per year revenue by NPA is rather abysmal considering the number of ports and the sheer size of the country. NPA really ought to be doing a minimum of N1 trillion transactions per annum. By any measure therefore, NPA is grossly underperforming.
SHORTCHANGING THE CONSOLIDATED FUND: it is most remarkable that of the one trillion earned by the NPA in four years, only 10%, which is a paltry N100 billion found it’s way to the consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF). Though the published numbers are jumbled and mixed up in places, one could manage to glean as follows:
▪︎Revenue for 2016 =N182.42bn
▪︎Remittance to CRF = N23.97bn
▪︎Revenue for 2017 = N259.99bn
▪︎ Remittamce to CRF =N30.31bn
▪︎Revenue for 2018 =N282.42bn
▪︎Remittance to CRF =N33.6bn
▪︎Revenue for 2019 = N300bn
Remittance to CRF = N30bn?
From the table above, while total revenue would amount to slightly over N1 trillion, the sum transferred to the treasury is roughly N100bn over four years.
This situation, which is starkly inimical to the economy of the country has been with us for quite a while.
In fact, until a few years ago, most revenue yielding MDAs still received huge subvention from the FG. So it has been a history of unbridled financial recklessness in our parastatals.
It is usually a tug of war to get the biggest of them to present themselves for budget screenings in the National Assembly.
There budget is characterized by jumbo overheads and wastes.
GOING FORWARD: Federal Government must urgently revamp the financial reporting systems in large revenue making MDAs. While the CAC and its CAMA, target private businesses, the fat cows of the FG are not held to any strict standards of reporting their activities.
This is the reason why an NPA would only remit about 10% (N100bn) of its revenues to the treasury, while it fritters 90% (900bn). It is the same story in NNPC, NIMASA, etc. This is unacceptable.
Finally, if we reverse this trend, FG may never have to borrow again.
▪︎Steve Osuji, journalist and public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos