There was sharp division on Tuesday among the senators as the Senate passed the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS 2020 budget of N238.15billion.
Some of the lawmakers, who spoke during the consideration of the report by the Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariffs after presentation by its chairman, Senator Francis Alimikhena opposed to the approval of the estimates.
Apart from the uproar over the alleged unaudited accounts of the NCS for years, the aggrieved senators pointed out that the report on the budget was not tidy, noting that some of the figures were not adding up.
They argued that the Customs cannot be getting seven percent from revenue collected, two percent from all Value Added Tax, VAT, allocation from Federation Account and other revenues and still failed to submit its accounts for auditing.
In his contribution on the report, Senator James Manager (PDP Delta South), said that irrespective of what the Committee had agreed with the House of Representatives Committee, “this report is too scanty for us to look at. The Committee should have taken a proper look at the report before submitting it to us. We need to look at the federation account properly.”
Senator Gabriel Suswam (PDP Benue North East), said that before the Customs budget should be passed, proper explanation should be made, so that the Senate will understand why some figures are not adding up.
Also, Senator Solomon Adeola (APC Lagos West), had earlier observed that the seven percent for the Customs was enough to defray its expenditure, noting that apart from the seven percent, the agency still draws funds from the Federation account.
In his own, Senator Matthew Urhoghide said, “the fact that Customs is collecting seven percent does not mean that its budget should not be audited.”
Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC Kebbi North) who also kicked against the passage of the budget, noted that because the accounts of agencies have not been audited, was the reason why the nation falls below civilized standard.
He said: “This Senate has a duty to bring all agencies into conformity with the vision of federal government. We must bring our institutions to conform with what will make the country proud. We can’t pass this kind of budget.”
In his remarks after the passage of the budget, the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan said, “we expect MDAs to present their audited accounts before the end of the year especially towards the end of December or at least the first quarter of next year, that is if we include all the calendar months.
“If any agency refuses or fails without any congent reason, we have reason to take a drastic action when it comes to appropriation because not to account for what you have been given in the previous year, that is to say you are not prepared to take a new budget.
“So I’m advising the MDAs, especially those that are not up to date with their audited accounts to do so. We could decide as a National Assembly to take measures against agencies of government that are not up to date with their audited accounts.”
Presenting the report before the Senate earlier, Senator Alimikhena explained that the proposal is based on the Federal Government of Nigeria Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF.
He added that the total expenditure of N238.15 Billion is being proposed for the 2020 financial year as follows: Personnel Cost =N98.61 Billion representing 41.41% Annex I, Overhead Cost =N15.95 Billion representing 6.70% Annex 11, Capital Cost =N123.59 Billion representing 51.89% Annex III.
Highlights of the budget proposal, according to him includes, the establishment of the E-Customs Project through massive deployment of information communication technology to eliminate personal interface in customs operations.
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