David-mark04032011Sequel to the Petroleum Technology Development Fund’s (PTDF) cry of possible bankruptcy over the weekend, the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) has issued the agency a seven-day ultimatum to provide details of its earnings in the last five years as well as a comprehensive list of its portfolio investments.

The PTDF Executive Secretary, Dr. Oluwole Oluleye, had said that except the N57 billion budget backlog owed the agency by the Federal Ministry of Finance was released, it would go bankrupt “in months” and might not be able to fund scholarship of hundreds of Nigerians in foreign universities.

And with a declaration that will jolt Nigerians and particularly state governments, which are still waiting for more funds from the Federation Account, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said yesterday that it does not owe the Federation Account N2.3 trillion.

In a statement in Abuja by its Acting Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Tumini Green, the NNPC also berated Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, who reportedly made the submission, for making claims that lack verifiable evidence.

She expressed dismay at the “increasingly unwarranted and unfounded accusations against it by otherwise informed persons in the polity – persons who, by virtue of their positions in government, should know better.

Green claimed that Oshiomhole’s attack was part of a sustained campaign against the corporation aimed at distracting it from pursuing the transformation of the oil and gas industry for the general good of the nation.

“We wish to state without any equivocation that we do not owe the Federation Account any money as at today, taking into account outstanding subsidies and other associated costs of operations and loses,” she said. “We have consistently paid all monies due to the FA into its Central Bank of Nigeria account as we receive them.”

She stated that not all revenues collected by NNPC are paid directly into the accounts of FA with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as some are paid into the accounts of the relevant government agencies, like the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Department of Petroleum Resources, with the CBN. But eventually, all payments are credited to the accounts of the FAAC.

Oluleye had also told the Senator Emmanuel Paulker-led committee during an oversight tour of PTDF’s projects that the agency has been unable to pay salaries in the past two months due to the situation.

The report of the agency’s budget performance for the period January to August 2013, which was presented to lawmakers, also indicated that out of N70.9 billion budgeted for the 2013 fiscal year, only N13.7 billion has so far been released, resulting in just about 19.37 per cent performance.

However, Paulker faulted PTDF’s bankruptcy claims on the ground that the agency has several other undisclosed sources of income while most of its portfolio investments are shrouded in secrecy.

Also, members of the petroleum upstream panel queried why the PTDF declared N123,205,016.77 in “Excess of Income/(Expense) Over Expenditure” yet claimed inability to pay staff salaries and meet sundry financial obligations.

 

Information from The Guardian was used in this report.

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