The House Committee on Public Accounts has launched an investigation into the multi-million dollar debt owed to the federal government by terminal operators and the failure of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) to remit it to the national treasury.
The investigation follows 12 audit queries from the Auditor General for the Federation (AuGF) on the NPA’s financial statement for the 2019 fiscal year.
Hon. Wole Oke, Chairman of the Committee, asked NPA management to explain why such a large sum of money owed to the federal government has not been recovered and paid into the federal treasury.
However, the NPA has only responded to one of the questions about terminal operators’ debts to the government in the amount of $852.094 million and N1.897 billion.
NPA stated that N269.410 million of the N1.8 billion has been recovered, with the remaining N1.6 billion invoices processed on the encumbered areas remaining unpaid.
The management also stated that the volume change on fix lease fee payment by APMT resulting from clauses in the concession agreement between NPA and APMT is $504,663,452.37 out of a total of $852,093,730.77.
“Bills raised on encumbered areas that went unpaid total $19,169,459.00.” GMT has been paid in the amount of $54,707,700.08, penalties have been paid in the amount of $11,922,642.68 and VAT has been paid in the amount of $28,693,707.07.
“A total of $92,533,518.72 has been recovered, leaving an unpaid lease and Throughout fee of $139,970,637.71 (made up of $113,982,486.82 and $5,988,150.89),” the agency said.
Unsatisfied with the explanation, the lawmakers directed NPA management to come and reconcile their position with that of the Auditor General of the Federation, as well as provide evidence of remitting the recovered N269.51 million and $92.534 million to the treasury.
The NPA is also required to provide the House with a contract agreement/Service Level Agreement, a list of all terminal operators, and a detailed schedule of lease fees that make up the total amount owed to the government by the operators.
The committee will invite defaulting terminal operators to explain and justify their reasons for failing to pay the fixed lease fee, while the NPA will provide details on community-related issues that prevented concessionaires from accessing the encumbered areas.
One of the terminal operators, APMT, is also expected to appear before the committee, owing the government a whopping $504 million, while the NPA is expected to disclose efforts being made to recover the money as well as a list of consultants hired to assist in the debt recovery.
They asked the NPA to provide a comprehensive list/details/schedule of debtors who are owing legacy debts to the tune of N7,293,403,552.55, stating the outstanding debt against each of the defaulters on the outstanding estate rent, shipping due, and service boat of N32,266,183,590.8 and $67,425,429.88.
The committee also directed the NPA to provide it with a comprehensive list of debtors who owe N17,687,440,469.16 in shipping and service boat fees.
The amount recovered and the outstanding debt must be listed next to each debtor’s name.
The committee also demanded the current status of the underlisted legacy debts, as well as evidence of partial remittances to government coffers, if any.