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Reps to investigate BPE over alleged violation of fiscal laws

The House of Representatives, on Wednesday, resolved to investigate an alleged breach of Fiscal Responsibility Act by the Bureau of Public Enterprises ( BPE).

The House mandated its Committees on Privatisation and Commercialisation and Public Accounts to  interface with the bureau over the allegations and report back to it within four weeks.

This followed a motion by Honourable Abbas Tajudeen (APC-Kaduna), which was unanimously adopted by members through a voice vote.

Moving the motion, Tajudeen accused the BPE of operating in contravention of several provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.

According to Tajudeen, the allegations included failure to provide audited accounts for the financial years 2012 to 2015 and non-remittance of its operating surplus to the tune of N81.8 million in 2007.

“The action of the bureau violated Section 22 (1) and (2) of the Public Enterprises (Privatisation and Commercialisation) Act,1999.

“This compels the bureau to keep proper accounts and cause them to be audited by auditors appointed from the list and in accordance with the guidelines supplied by the Auditor-General of the Federation,” he said.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN),  Tajudeen held  that the conduct of the BPE lacked probity, transparency and accountability and was a violation of Section 48 (1) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.

“It imposes obligation on the Federal Government to ensure full and timely disclosure and wide publication of all transactions and decisions involving public revenues and expenditures and their implication for the finance of the federation.

“The objectives for the establishment of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) and BPE are to restructure through commercialisation and privatisation, moribund and underperforming public utilities to benefit present and future generations of Nigerians.

“It has not been realised because the BPE has not kept regular financial records of its operations and can, therefore, not be trusted with overseeing the huge financial operations of commercialisation and privatisation  of public enterprises.

“The grievous breach of the law for many years by an essential government institution like the BPE has exposed the failure of the Auditor-General of the Federation to live up to his constitutional duties of auditing public accounts to ensure accountability, transparency and fiscal responsibility,” he added.

The Minority Leader of the House, Honourable Leo Ogor, called for fair hearing and recommended that the committee should investigate and come up with clear details of the matter and report back to the House.

Honourable Jimoh Olajide (APC-Lagos). said the committee should interface with the BPE to find a lasting solution to the matter.