Abuja - The Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) in Abuja on Wednesday criticised the repeated failure of the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Administration (NIMASA) to render its audited accounts from 2007 to 2011.
Officials of the commission led by its Chairman, Aliyu Yelwa, met with NIMASA officials, led by the Director-General of the agency, Mr Patrick Akpobolokemi.
In his remarks before the meeting went into a closed-door, Sylvanus Mordi, the Director, Policy and Standards, FRC, said NIMASA ignored requests to submit its audited account from 2007 to 2011.
He said the fact that the agency’s financial statement for the periods indicated had not been prepared and published was a clear violation of Section 23 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.
On budgetary planning, Mordi said that NIMASA was listed among the 31 corporations, commissions and agencies owned by the Federal Government expected to submit their Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for three years.
The agencies, he said, were also expected to prepare their annual budget based on the MTEF and make allowances for the payment of 80 per cent of their operating surpluses into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.
He, however, expressed dismay that the agency ignored requests from the commission to submit its MTEF for 2009-2011, 2010-2012, 2011-2013 and 2012-2015 and also failed to pay its operating surpluses.
``When we came on board in 2009, we wrote to the corporations, Ministries, Departments and Agencies, requesting them to comply.
``Since 2009, we have written so many letters to NIMASA in particular, that we have lost count, and there was no response,’’ he said.
The commissioner noted that at a point the commission was compelled to refer the issue to the Directorate of Legal Investigation and Enforcement to investigate.
``But as we progressed, we got a letter from NIMASA that there had been a change in management and the new management was willing to comply with the law.
``We had to beg the legal directorate to release the file so that this meeting could be held otherwise that investigation is in progress.’’
Responding before journalists were asked to leave the conference room of the FRC annex in Asokoro, Abuja, Akpobolokemi blamed the lapses in the agency to ``mistakes by past administrations. ’’
``We are here to rob minds with the commission on whatever directive, in respect to the FRA 2007, that we are expected to do and carry out such in compliance to governments law and regulations.
``If there were mistakes in the past, it is the duty of the present administration in NIMASA to ensure that those mistakes are corrected for a better relationship. ’’
He promised that the agency would make available its audited financial statements to the commission ``as at when due’’, in compliance with the Federal Government emphasis on accountability and transparency for public organisations.
He also pledged to fully cooperate with commission to ensure fiscal transparency of all establishments listed in its schedule.
``This is a matter of obligation and necessity for us,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting later went into a closed-door session that lasted nearly three hours.