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Sunday, 13 January 2013

FINANCIAL REVIEW COMMITTEE DISCOVERS DESCREPANCIES IN FINANCES OF BAYELSA STATE


Against the backdrop of the alarm being raised by Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson that the wage bill of the state is “unacceptable and unsustainable”, it has been revealed that the wage bill rose from a modest N1.7 billion in January, 2010 to N2.2 billion in December of the same year and subsequently to a staggering N5.5 billion in February, 2012.

This revelation came to the fore when the Financial Management Review Committee set up government on February 27, 2012, to undertake a comprehensive review of the finances of the state since 2007, submitted its report to Governor Dickson in Government House, Yenagoa.

While speaking during the presentation, Chairman of the Financial Management Review Committee, Chief Ndutimi Alaibe disclosed that the total number of staff in the payroll of government, obtained from the State Treasury is far in excess of the number in the nominal roll obtained from the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

While analysing the expenditure profile of the state, Chief Alaibe revealed that government’s spending increased from N155 billion in 2007 to N208 billion in 2010, a development the Committee chairman said accounted for the lack of funds for the execution of capital projects.

It was further revealed that in addition to regular monthly payments for security from the recurrent expenditure amounting to N3.193 billion in 2010 and N7.63 billion in 2011, curiously, government still spent N3.3 billion in 2010, N10.3 billion in 2011 and N890 million in the months of January and February of 2012, for the same security-related issues.

The Committee highlighted some on-going projects for which staggering sums of monies have been paid without commensurate level of work done, and called for serious scrutiny of such projects.

Mention was made of a particular project amounting to N1.86 billion for which the entire contract sum was approved as upfront payment.

The Committee said more than 90 percent of the cash payments within the period under review, do not have originating approval and other supporting documents, pointing out that most of the payments were irregular and fraudulent.

The Committee also frowned at the management of the N50 billion bond procured by the state government, adding that the funds were never utilised for the execution of the projects for which it was procured in the first place.

It was also disclosed that at a time when emphasis was more on capital expenditure, Bayelsa State had a recurrent expenditure increase of 123 percent while capital expenditure dropped by 48 percent.

Within the period under review, the state received a total sum of N660.45 billion from the federation account and incurred a total debt burden of N207.2 billion.

The Committee, which noted that 97 percent of the state’s revenue was from the federation account, recommended that government should re-engineer its internally generated revenue process because ay delay I remittance of funds from the federation account could cause a total shut down of government’s activities.

Government was further advised to implement effective internal control mechanism in the Treasury Department; maintain a drastically reduced cash flow profile and immediately commence a recovery process of all unverified payments.

In his response, Governor Seriake Dickson assured the Committee that deserving action will be taken on the recommendations, adding that the government has the political will to execute the recommendations.

Responding to the Committee’s recommendation that government should implement effective internal control mechanism to check frivolous payments, Hon. Dickson remarked that already a framework has been put in place to curb wastages in the system.

The Governor thanked members of the Committee for the diligent and professional manner with which they went about the assignment.


Daniel Iworiso-Markson,
Senior Special Assistant to the Governor
On Media & Public Affairs

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