By Adaku Walter
The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts has begun investigation into terminal operators multi-million dollars debt owed the federal government and failure of the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) to account for billions of naira supposed to be accruing to the national treasury.
The Committee being chaired by Rep. Wole Oke want the management of the NPA to explain why such a huge amount of money owed the Federal government by terminal operators has not been recovered and paid into the federal treasury.
The investigation is sequel to 12 audit queries from the office of the Auditor-General for the Federation on the financial statement of the NPA for the 2019 financial year.
Meanwhile, the NPA management had only responded to one of the 12 queries on the indebtedness of terminal operators to the government to the tune of $852.094 million and N1.897 billion.
The NPA said the sum of N269.410 million of the N1.8 billion has been recovered while the balance of N1.6 billion invoices processed on the encumbered areas remain unpaid.
According to the NPA, “the sum of $504.6 million is volume change on fix lease fee payment by APM Terminal, arising from clauses in the concession agreement out of the total sum of $852 million.
The authority noted that bills raised on encumbered areas, which remained unpaid is $19 million, adding: “The following has been paid-GMT-$54,707,700.08, unpaid penalties- $11,922,642.68 and unpaid VAT-$28,693,707.07.” It said further that “$92,533,518.72 has been recovered leaving unpaid lease and Throughout fee in the sum of $139,970,637.71 (made up of $113,982,486.82 and $5,988,150.89) respectively.
Not satisfied with the explanation on the issue, the Committee directed the NPA management to come and reconcile their position with that of the Auditor-General for the Federation and provide evidence of remitting the recovered N269.51 million and $92.534 million to the treasury.
The NPA is also to furnish the House with a contract agreement/ Service Level Agreement, the list of all terminal operators as well as a comprehensive schedule of lease fees, Throughput fees and GMT that makes up the total amount being owed to the government by the operators.
The Committee is to invite the defaulting terminal operators to come and justify their reason for not paying the fixed lease fee, Throughput fee and GMT, while the NPA is also to provide details of community-related issues that hindered concessionaires from accessing the encumbered areas.