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ICPC, Others Push for Accountability in 2021 Budget Implementation

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2021 Budget Implementation

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Senior officials of the federal government in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have been advised to desist from the manipulation of the budget or risk being punished.

Speaking at a one-day forum in Abuja, the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation (BOF), Mr Ben Akabueze, reminded the officials that budget is a matter of law and, therefore, infractions in this regard are punishable by law.

Business Post reports that the event, themed Transparency and Fiscal Discipline in Budget Implementation, was organised by BOF in partnership with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for Directors of Finance & Accounts and Internal Auditors of MDAs.

In his presentation, the Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr Adolphus Aghughu, urged public office holders to cultivate a culture of accountability especially in the implementation of the 2021 budget and ensure that monies are expended according to appropriation.

He suggested that adequate measures should be put in place to block all leakages of corruption, expressing hopes that the participants will fully commit to making fiscal discipline in the discharge of fiscal responsibility.

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On his part, the Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, government officials to embrace transparency and fiscal discipline, emphasising that it was their duty to manage public finance and assets with high responsibility and integrity.

Speaking on the result of ICPC system study and reviews (SSRs) which aim at identifying, eliminating, preventing and obstructing opportunities for corruption, the ICPC Chairman stated that result of the 2019 exercise in 208 MDAs led to the “discovery of N31.8 billion personnel cost surpluses for 2017 and 2018, misapplication of N19.8 billion and N9.2 billion from personnel cost and capital fund respectively.”

As a result of the findings, N42 billion unspent surplus allocations from personnel cost for 2019 alone was blocked from possible abuse and pilfering mostly from health sector and some educational institution.

The focus on health and education sectors is because of the importance of their services which touch the lives of ordinary citizens and are critical to meeting any of the internationally recognized development goals.

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“This implies that if we had covered the entire civil service structure of all MDAs the figures would have been staggering,” he said.

The ICPC boss revealed some of the findings from the educational institutions by the Commission which includes: padding of nominal rolls; warrant releases in excess of actual personnel cost needs; inadequate or non-budgetary allocation for outsourced services; widespread misuse of personnel cost allocation, amongst others.

Prof. Owasanoye highlighted some of the Commission’s findings in the pilot review of the Open Treasury Portal (OTP) launched in December 2019, to include: payments of advances beyond the approved limit of N200,000 to individuals’ accounts; payment to individual staff/accountants for disbursement to ad-hoc employees, and cash payments for staff DTA, transport, among others.

Arising from all these operations and findings, the Commission was able to restrain further diversion of such funds as cooperative and union dues, and these were retained within the system.

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Additionally, the systems studies led to the mopping-up of about N189bn from personnel cost of MDAs through the issuing of a negative warrant from the Ministry of Finance.

He recommended that the blockage of unspent balances immediately after salaries are paid as well the prevention of unauthorized editing of payroll information data on the GIFMIS platform; and said banks should be directed to ensure that account names and numbers match before completing payment.

Earlier at the event, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties, Mr Aliyu Shinkafi, assured that the recommendations reached at the meeting would be followed to further enhance fiscal responsibility, especially in budget implementation.

Aduragbemi Omiyale is a journalist with Business Post Nigeria, who has passion for news writing. In her leisure time, she loves to read.

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Economy

Oil Falls as OPEC+ Mulls Raising Supply

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opec oil output

By Adedapo Adesanya

Crude oil prices settled slightly lower on Tuesday as the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+) discussed raising oil production.

Earlier in the day, the price of the Brent crude hit a two-year high of $75 per barrel but it later dropped to $74.85 per barrel, losing 23 cents or 0.18 per cent while the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) declined by 0.29 per cent or 58 cents to trade at $73.08 per barrel.

OPEC+ is discussing a gradual increase in oil output from August, but no decision has been taken on the exact volumes, an OPEC+ source reportedly said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

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The alliance is already returning 2.1 million barrels per day (bpd) to the market from May through July as part of a plan to unwind last year’s record output curbs gradually as pandemic-hit demand recovers.

The group will have its next meeting on July 1.

Both benchmarks have risen for the past four weeks on optimism over the pace of global COVID-19 vaccinations and expected pick-up in summer travel. The rebound has pushed up spot premiums for crude in Asia and Europe to multi-month highs.

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On Monday, the market reacted positively over a pause in negotiations to revive the Iran nuclear deal after Mr Ebrahim Raisi won the country’s presidential election.

Although he backed talks between Iran and six world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal but flatly rejected meeting US President, Mr Joe Biden, even if the country removed all sanctions placed by the Donald Trump administration.

Removal of sanctions on commodities, including crude, could see an extra one million barrel flow into the market as it would be exempted from supply quotas.

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Meanwhile, forecasters continue to see a higher oil price amid tighter oil supply and recovering demand which could push oil briefly to $100 per barrel in 2022.

US crude stocks were expected to have dropped for a fifth consecutive week, and this could lift prices.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) said last week that US crude oil stockpiles dropped sharply in the week to June 11 as refineries boosted operations to their highest since January 2020, signalling a continued improvement in demand.

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Economy

NASD Unlisted Security Index Extends Loss by 0.93%

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NASD Unlisted Securities Index

By Adedapo Adesanya

The NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange extended its stay in the bearish territory for the second session this week following a 0.93 per cent loss it printed on Tuesday.

The negative movement in the value of Central Securities Clearing Systems (CSCS) Plc and Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Group Plc further depressed the market capitalisation of the exchange by N4.95 billion to close at N525.23 billion in contrast to N530.18 billion it quoted at the previous session.

Similarly, the two stocks sliced the NASD Unlisted Security Index (NSI) by 6.97 points to 738.91 points from 745.88 points it recorded at the previous session.

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Business Post reports that CSCS Plc depreciated by 99 kobo or 5.50 per cent to sell at N17 per share compared to N17.99 per share of the previous session.

On its part, NGX Group saw its stock lose 40 kobo or 2.1 per cent to close at N18.93 per unit as against N19.33 per unit it finished a day earlier.

At the market yesterday, the trading volume suffered a 59.7 per cent slump as only 366,354 units were transacted by investors in contrast to the 909,339 units traded on Monday, indicating that investors’ interest in the market is gradually waning and they need a trigger to boost their confidence.

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Also, the trading value went down by 55.4 per cent as shares worth N8.3 million exchanged hands compared with the N18.5 million transacted on Monday.

In the same vein, the unlisted securities market recorded only 20 deals, 33.3 per cent lower than the 30 deals executed at the preceding trading day.

NGX Group maintained its position as the most active stock by volume (year-to-date) for trading 272.1 million units of its shares for N6.1 billion. The second spot was retained by Swap Technologies & Telecomms Plc for transacting 46.6 million units worth N41.0 million while CSCS Plc held the third position for exchanging 31. 4 million shares valued at N494.2 million.

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In terms of value, NGX Group also remained the busiest with the sale of 272.1 million units of its securities for N6.1 billion, followed by Niger Delta Exploration and Production (NDEP) Plc with 2.9 million units valued at N900.6 million and FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria with 5.9 million units valued at 753.5 million.

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Economy

NGX Delists Four Firms for Poor Corporate Governance

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ATS Training NGX

By Dipo Olowookere

Four companies trading their shares on the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited have been removed over poor corporate governance.

The affected firms; Evans Medical Plc, Nigerian-German Chemical Plc, Roads Nigeria Plc and Unic Diversified Holdings Plc have not been able to abide by the listing rules, including filing their financial results to the exchange.

The stock exchange requires companies trading their equities on its platform to regularly file their financial statements to enable shareholders and the investing public to have information that would enable them to make investment decisions.

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When organisations fail to submit their books for scrutiny, the exchange uses its big hammer, which usually comes in a form of sanction and when it becomes consistent, the firms are shown the way out.

As for the aforementioned four companies, they have failed over a period of time to adhere to the rules of the exchange, which necessitated the regulation action.

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In a regulatory document obtained by Business Post, the NGX disclosed that it removed the “entire issued capital” of the four organisations effective Monday, June 14, 2021.

It was stated that the delisting of the firms received the approval of the board of NGX Regulation Limited (NGX RegCo) on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.

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According to the exchange, the authorisation for the removal of the affected firms is in line with the regulatory delisting process of NGX.

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