The Senate Public Account Committee has queried the Federal Ministry of Power over N7bn found in its budget without appropriation from the National Assembly.
The Senate panel hinged the query on the 2015 report of the Auditor General for the Federation, currently being scrutinised by its members.
The Chairman of the committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, wondered why N7bn should appear in the ministry’s account when the 2015 budget had yet to be passed.
He also observed that the 2014 budget of the ministry had been closed as of the time the money was found in its account.
The panel insisted that there was no evidence that the money was budgeted for the Hydro Power Transmission Project in either 2014 or 2015 fiscal year, as claimed by the panel.
Part of the query read, “The sum of N7bn was received by the Ministry of Power in January 2015, as shown in the accounts. This fund was spread into four commercial banks under the account named ‘Hydro Power Transmission Project.’
“The budget for 2015 has not yet been passed as of the time this money was received by the ministry in January 2015, while the account for the year 2014 was already closed as of December 31, 2014.
“It was also observed that there was no evidence that such money was budgeted for in respect of the Hydro Power Transmission Project in either 2014 or 2015 fiscal year of the Ministry Appropriation Act.”
However, the Ministry of Power, in its written response, explained that the money was a Federal Government intervention fund.
It said, “The Federal Government released the money under the special Intervention Fund to the ministry for the funding of the Hydroelectric Power Project.
“The fund was released as a special warrant and therefore was outside of the Ministry’s approved budget. The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation approved the project accounts for the fund in four different banks.”
The query further revealed that N2bn was transferred to Diamond Bank; N2bn to Heritage Bank, N2bn to Access Bank, and N1bn to Wema Bank.
It was gathered that the money was approved by the then President as a loan for the evacuation of 40MW generated from Kashimbila Hydro-power station.
The SPAC Chairman demanded more documents to enable the committee to determine whether the money was properly utilised as claimed by the Ministry of Power or not.