By Nathaniel Zacchaeus, Abuja
Authorities of the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) appeared before the Senate Public Accounts Committee yesterday to defend the query of the Auditor General for the Federation which indicted it of not remitting $852m and N1.8bn to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
The Office of the Auditor General for the Federation had in the 2019 audit report, said the NPA did not collect remittances from terminal operators which amounted to $852m and N1.8bn.
The Senate Committee on Public Accounts, on the strength of the audit queries against NPA had on Tuesday given its Managing Director, Mohammed Bello Koko, and other management staff, to appear before it unfailingly within 48 hours.
In response to the committee’s directive, the NPA MD led his team to the Red Chamber to defend the queries.
Koko explained to the committee that the lump sums of $852m and N1.8bn, raised in the queries, were an accumulation of non-remittances from private port operators who came on board through the 2006 concession agreement.
He explained that the faulty concession agreements signed with the private operators by the Federal Government in 2006, largely accounted for the non-remittances NPA was being held responsible for by the AuGF.
Koko said, “The $852m and N1.8bn unremitted funds by the private operators to NPA was largely caused by faulty concession agreements the Federal Government signed with them in 2006 when the ports were concessioned
“The concession agreements were faulty in the sense that some of the operators are facing encumbrances in different ways to cover the space concessioned for them which also encumbered them to remit what is due from them to NPA.
“The encumbrances in question range from the inaccessibility of some portions of areas leased, by the concessionaire, communal encumbrances, and volume change or tonnage amount.”
He told the committee that the Federal Government that signed the concession agreement with the private operators even contributed to the encumbrances faced by the concessionaires at the beginning by not removing structures that belonged to it from the right of way of the affected concessionaires.
“Out of the $852m, going by our in-house assessment, $504m was accumulated unremitted levies due to encumbered areas. However, we have been able to remit $232.2m and N269.4m from the N1.8bn.
“We have got consultancy from the World Bank for review of the concession agreements which would be free from any form of encumbrances,” he added.
On the second query of outstanding debts of $67.45m and N32.266bn, the NPA boss told the committee members that the debts were not incurred by the NPA but by the defunct Nigerian Shippers Councils whose debtors are no longer traceable.
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Aliyu Wadada, asked the NPA boss to furnish the committee with their financial statement and way out for the government to write off the legacy debts.