The Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation, OAGF, has uncovered about N4.93bn unapproved allowances paid by the management of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, to its members of staff.
The discovery is contained in the 2017 audit report of the Auditor-General for the Federation, which was obtained by the Punch in Abuja.
The report, signed by the Auditor-General for the Federation, Anthony Ayine, stated that the N4.93bn was paid to members of staff between January 2016 and December 2017.
The report listed the irregular allowances to include upfront allowance, upfront differential allowance, 13th-month salary allowance, and pre-retirement overseas training allowance.
Others are a terminal benefit or exit package, and sitting allowance. It said the terminal benefit allowance is different from what the Contributory Pension Act provided for.
The report stated that these payments violated Public Service Rule 130102, as they were not part of the allowances listed as payable to officers in the Federal Public Service.
The report reads in part, “During the periodic check of National Health Insurance Scheme, Abuja, various irregular and unapproved allowances amounting to ₦4,931,475,094.63 were paid to members of staff during the period January 2016 to December 2017
“The payments violated Public Service Rule 130102, as they are not part of the allowances listed as payable to officers in the Federal Public Service.
“Allowance differential payment is illegal and alien to the public service as Public Service allowances are paid on the basis of Grade level as at the time of payment.
“Sitting allowance was paid for holding day to day committee meetings, for which the officers received salaries in violation of Circular Ref No. SWC/s/04/S.310/T/65 of 8th April 2016 which says that ‘Public officers on monthly salary are not entitled to sitting allowance for holding meetings in their offices.”
Mr Ayine said in the report that despite the provision of Financial Regulation 3210(v) which stipulated that the Chief Executive Officers of government agencies must submit both the audited accounts and management reports to him not later than 31st May of the following year, about 265 of them had yet to comply as of June 30 this year.
He said while 160 agencies defaulted in the submission of audited accounts for 2016; the figure rose to 265 agencies in 2017.
In addition, he said 11 agencies have never submitted any financial statements since their inception.
He said, “A number of major weaknesses and lapses in the management of public funds and resources were identified across several MDAs during the annual audit.
“Our findings range from irregular expenditures to failure to surrender surplus revenues to the Treasury, all running into billions of naira. Also notable was the continuing failures in the implementation of International Public Sector Accounting Standards.
“Overall, our findings are indicative of significant weaknesses in expenditure control, accounting, financial reporting and in the completeness and accuracy of the consolidated financial statements.
As was in previous years, the Auditor-General picked a hole in the annual budgeting process of the Federal Government, stating that they are unable to support genuine development.