Govt agencies in multi-billion Naira personnel cost scam –ICPC

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…recovers N12.2bn as agencies rush to recruit new staff

…says budget padding still ongoing

By Samuel Ibiyemi

The Independent Corrupts Practices and other related offenses Commission (ICPC) has recovered over N12.2 billion from federal government’s  agencies as inflated personnel cost following tracking of monthly payment of salaries.

Chairman, ICPC, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye disclosed in Abuja on Thursday during a meeting with the media that about one and half a month ago, the commission received N9.2billion from tracking implementation of the 2019 budget. He added that as at yesterday’s morning, additional N3.2 billion was recovered from federal government’s agencies.  “By the time we finished tracking 2019 budget implementation, there will be more fund to recover from ministries and agencies of the federal government,” he assured.

Professor Owasanoye affirmed that budget padding is still ongoing. According to him, when officials of the ICPC examined  the budget and how it was appropriated and how it will be used, we can confirm authoritatively that there is still BUDGET PADDING.

He noted that oversight function by National Assembly members  is not strong enough. “By checking, if you have a personnel vote, and discovered that all salaries have been paid, you can tell that somebody has claimed more that the number of personnel in the agency. It shows that the agency has collected more money than the number of personnel”, he lamented.

The Chairman said that the ICPC takes responsibility to inform the agency concerned that excess amount was found on its portal which is not the money for the agency .According to him, once we informed the agency, we simply communicate to the ministry of Finance that we found  a certain amount on the portal of an agency and the money does not belong to the agency and the money should be taking away .”The exercise is still ongoing to investigate agencies on personnel cost. We decided not to wait till the end of the year when lots of magic and dramatic things happened,” he noted.

He added: “We have helped to save for the government and reduced personnel cost. What we have learnt is how agencies still breach financial regulations in the use of funds.

However, Owasanoye claimed that the commission informed the Senate during budget defence that some agencies of the Federal government are rushing to employ new staff. This, he said  was triggered  by some of the activities of the ICPC such as budget implementation tracking. “This is because if we discovered money remaining on the portal of an agency for personnel cost and the agency don’t have the staff. Then, the agency will quickly recruit and back date the date of the new staff recruited in order to justify what the agency has done .This is what we explained when we did our budget defence at the senate about  proactive measures we are taking once we discovered excess money on the portal of  government’s agencies”, he said.

The Chairman gave the assurance that such agency  can only back date  employment of the staff to create crisis for the staff  but cannot pay the staff. This, he said was because the commission is recovering excess money on the portal. “ We will be distributing next week what kind of infractions we found  and what categories of agencies we investigated so that people will understand,” he assured.

He said: “Again, our intention is to learn the practice about what happened. We can only police an issue that we know something about. If we don’t know about it, there is no way we can resolve it and to advise the government so that we can retain these funds for social development.

He added that the commission is in support of the position of President Muhammadu Buhari that all agencies of the government not on Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information Sytem (IPPIS) will not receive October salary which medical and tertiary institutions opposed. “With all due respect, I disagreed with my colleagues in Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on this issue of IPPIS because the evidence that we have is very clear. It is not World Bank prescription but it is best practice. If you establish a company today and you don’t know those you are paying, there is no way you will make profit.

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