The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) yesterday appointed a lead consultant and 52 others to verify and reconcile revenue collections and remittances by banks which had been engaged by the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).
The lead consultant, J.K. Consulting Company is required to examine the books of all the affected banks from January 2008 to June 2012. It is also expected to turn in its final report to the commission in three months.
It was, however, gathered that all the 21 banks in the country were collecting vehicles for both agencies.
THISDAY reliably gathered that the move may not be unconnected with recurring discrepancies in collections and remittances by FIRS and NCS. These gaps were often observed at the monthly meetings of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC).
However, Chairman of RMAFC, Mr. Elias Mbam, noted at the inauguration of the body of consultants for the task in Abuja, that the exercise was not an attempt to audit the FIRS and NCS but to ensure that collecting banks complied fully with the terms of their agreement with both agencies.
He said the commission had also requested the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) to float a special account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) into which all expected recoveries would be paid in respect of the exercise.
The consultants, it was further gathered, were expected to be paid their respective professional fees from recoveries made, while the balance in the proposed account would be shared among the three-tiers of government.
Mbam said preliminary findings by the Non-Oil Monitoring Committee and the Mobilisation Department of the commission had highlighted some irregularities in the remittances of revenue by some collecting banks which may have amounted to “serious leakage to the Federation Account.”
He said: “I don’t know the amount we have lost but the consultants will tell us. We don’t have the details, if I had the details there wouldn’t be need to appoint consultants.
“I don’t know the volume but having identified some irregularities, that makes us to suspect that there may be more to what we have seen.
“The best way to confirm it (amount) is for the consultants to go to the books and verify what the position is to ensure that whatever they are deducting is in compliance with the provisions in the agreement.”
The RMAFC boss also gave an instance where some banks had made charges on Cost of Transfer (COT), a practice which he described as “not right and sometimes, not regular.”
He noted that the commission had been compelled to make a presentation to FAAC, after which it got the committee’s approval to engage consultants in order to get to the root of the matter.
He stated that the issue of leakage in the present circumstance did not affect the CBN as it was only a banker of the federation account.
Defending the large number of consultants engaged for the task, Mbam said: “If you know the volume of work involved in this assignment- and if you leave one consultant to do it, we may end up doing it for more than one year because all the 21 banks are collecting banks and their offices are scattered almost in every local government area in this country.”
He added that should “ findings become terrible” the commission would then need to stretch its investigation to pre-2008 transactions.
The exercise is scheduled to begin from June 3 to August 15.