Friday, January 20, 2012

Our mission is to check graft, waste, says Okonjo -Iweala...Agbakoba wants audit report implemented

CO-ORDINATING Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, yesterday said her mission in government is to fight corruption by plugging wastages and ensuring more transparency and accountability in the management of public resources.
Meanwhile, the former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Olisa Agbakoba, told the committee that Nigeria’s economic problems stemmed out from her inability to enforce its laws.
Expressing disappointment over the delay in implementing the KPMG report, which was submitted last September, Agbakoba urged the House to demand its full implementation.
Pledging her commitment to co-operate with the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee investigating the petrol subsidy issue, the minister declared: “We must get at the truth because the country needs every kobo we can find. I will not invent any answers to shield anybody.”
Okonjo-Iweala also stated that subsidy was not an ideological issue and that the challenge is to ensure that subsidies are properly targeted to get to the people who need it most.
She added that her ministry was determined to re-introduce an oil and gas monitoring unit to watch over the sector and ensure strict compliance with extant laws and regulation as well as adhere to transparency principles. She recalled how a similar unit which she set up during her previous stint as Finance Minister got some international oil companies to pay the country $1.2 billion following a study of their contractual obligations.
Fielding questions at her second appearance before the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Management yesterday, Okonjo-Iweala described the campaign to pin the decision on subsidy removal on her as “unfair and incorrect,” because as President Goodluck Jonathan had said, it was a government decision and not something one individual took.
According to Agbakoba, “if the recommendations of the KPMG audit report are judiciously implemented, the country would generate about N5 trillion while the implementation of the oil and gas content law is capable of yielding N10 trillion annually.”
Agbakoba said that those behind the mismanagement of the subsidy regime should be prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others.
He said that the KPMG audit report, which has exposed ‘embarrassing sharp practices’ in the nation’s foremost petroleum corporation, has the antidote to reveal the “thieving elements” in the oil sector.
According to him, ‘the KPMG report is so embarrassing and a big disgrace. A substantial part of the work of this committee had been done by the KPMG and it is very unfortunate that ever since that audit was done, nothing was done with the report. The KPMG report should be fully implemented.”
He urged the Federal Government to further empower the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to effectively carry out its functions.