The Senate Public Accounts Committee has criticised officials of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company for not remitting N1.5bn, being the interest on the funds they invested in Treasury bills.
The committee chairman, Senator Mathew Urhoghide, has, therefore, directed the Managing Director of NBET, Dr Nnaemeka Ewelukwa, to defend the query raised by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation on the matter.
NBET is the current manager of the electricity pool in the Nigerian electricity supply value chain.
Ewelukwa appeared before the panel on Thursday and claimed that the then Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, gave approval to the company to invest in the Treasury bills and spend the interest accrued on other investments.
The lawmakers scrutinised the approval letter by Okonjo-Iweala and raised further concerns.
Urhoghide said, “The ex-minister wrote that NBET is hereby granted authorisation to utilise the interest earned and accrued on its investment in Treasury bills to boost NBET’s capitalisation provided that the NBET does not utilise such monies for any recurrent expenditures.”
According to the Senator, the former minister stated that in a letter dated March 6, 2015, in response to the request for the retention of the interest accruing on the NBETS investment in the Nigerian Treasury bills.
The query issued by AuGF reads, “Various analyses carried out on the investment made by NBET, it was noticed that it (the company) stopped the remittance of accrued interest on the investment in Nigerian Treasury bills as well as as the balances on the various accounts maintained by the company in April 2014.
“This was as a result of a letter written from the office of the coordinating minister of the economy which was dated March 6, 2015, which purportedly gave NBET retroactive authorisation to retain all interests from 2014.
“The outstanding interest non-remitted to consolidated revenue stands at N1.5bn. The audit team observed the following issues with respect to retention on interest.”
However, NBET, in its response, claimed that all interests earned on sitting balance were remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund as the approval received did not cover the component.
“The interest earned from inception till December 2014 have all been remitted,” Ewelukwa stated.