• Panel approves N1.679 trillion budget for customs
The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives has faulted a move to spend $1.5 billion for rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery, describing the proposed expenditure as outrageous and heavily inflated.
The Ndudi Elumelu-led caucus, which demanded immediate review of the cost,
urged the presidency not to release any funds for the rehabilitation until after the review.
According to the caucus, a critical cost analysis indicates “a huge scam and a ploy by unscrupulous elements to hide under the guise of rehabilitation of the refinery to siphon public funds.” “The project can be transparently executed at an amount, far less than the approved over-bloated cost.”
The lawmakers, in a statement, noted that whereas, the caucus is in support of any genuine effort to bridge energy deficit in Nigeria, such should not be used as a ploy by corrupt individuals to fleece the nation.
“This overbloated $1.5 billion cost has again brought to the fore the prevailing unpatriotic proclivity of treasury looting and criminal diversion of public funds through inflated contracts by officials of government for their self interests.
“It is completely unexplainable that $1.5 billion, belonging to Nigerians, is to be funneled towards rehabilitation of a non-profitable refinery, which has already been slated to be handed over to private hands.
“As lawmakers, we firmly reject this attempt to use the refineries to further defraud our nation. In that regard, our caucus demands an immediate review of the project on a transparent and competitive cost template, while the billions of naira that would be recovered from the surplus, should be directed towards other areas of our national energy need.
“Furthermore, the minority caucus calls for immediate decisive steps towards providing required incentives to private organisations that have shown manifest interest in establishing refineries in our country, as a sure step to meet our national energy need”.
MEANWHILE, the House Committee on Budget and Appropriation has approved a budget of N1.679 trillion for Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for 2021.
Chairman of the committee, Leke Abejide, announced this during the panel’s meeting with the Comptroller General of NCS, Hamid Ali, in Abuja
Abejide stated that the committee had done its homework and arrived at the amount, which he said, would not be difficult for final approval by the entire House.
The committee also sought to know from the customs boss, the exact amount for recruitment of officers into the service following allegations of infractions in the process for which N9.19 billion was appropriated in 2020.
Besides, the lawmakers asked for a review of import duty on foreign used vehicles to stop Nigerians from going to other countries to import, as a measure towards increasing revenue generation by customs.
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