The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) raised payment vouchers totaling N138.5 million that were not supported with relevant documents in violation of extant rules, an audit report has shown.
Details of the payments and other infractions are contained in the annual report of the Auditor-General of the Federation (AGF) for 2019.
The FIRS is among the many Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the federal government indicted and queried by the Auditor-General for incessant violation of extant rules, some of which include non-retirement of personal advances within a financial year and grant of cash advances above the approved limit and payments without vouchers.
The Auditor-General, in the report, said these financial offences could translate to loss of government funds and/or diversion of public funds.
Commenting on the irregularity, the report noted that paragraph 603 of the Financial Regulation states that “All vouchers shall contain full particulars of each service, such as dates, numbers, quantities, distances, and rates, so as to enable them to be checked without reference to any documents and will invariably be supported by relevant documents such as Local Purchase Orders, Invoice, Special Letters of Authority, Time Sheets, etc”.
The payments were raised without receipts, originating memos, Store Receipt Vouchers (SRV), invoices, and other relevant documents.
The audit report thereafter directed the Executive Chairman of the FIRS to furnish the relevant supportive documents such as receipts, originating memos, Store Receipt Vouchers (SRV), invoices, etc. to the Public Accounts Committees of the National Assembly and apply sanctions relating to gross misconducts in paragraph 3129 of the Financial Regulations.
Similarly, the audit report said contract for the provision of marketing communication services was awarded to a contractor at the sum of N75,000,000 for a one year period between August 2016 and July, 2017. It noted, however, that the part payment of N42,640,993 was made to the contractor without statutory tax deductions and the amount of N4,264,099 was statutory taxes not deducted from the contractor’s payment.
Commenting on the infraction, the auditor general directed the FIRS to furnish evidence of the statutory tax deductions and remittance of 4,264,099 to the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly and apply sanctions relating to failure to collect and account for government revenue in paragraph 3112 of the Financial Regulation.
In the same vein, the audit observed that the FIRS made payments of Duty Tour Allowances (DTA) to staff amounting to 21,300,000 without proper narrations of purpose to justify that the payments were made in public interest. The anomalies could be attributed to weaknesses in the internal control system at the FIRS, the audit claimed, adding that it may lead to fraud and loss of public funds.
The audit also observed from the review of fourteen payment vouchers that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) made provisions for meals and refreshments during official meetings in excess of the approved limits for various meetings amounting to N40,234,099 contrary to the provisions of the Extant Circular. It called on the FIRS to provide reasons for the non compliance with the provisions of the Extant Circular to the Public Accounts Committees of the National Assembly, and, otherwise, apply sanctions relating to gross misconduct in paragraph 3129 of the Financial Regulations.
In similar circumstances, the audit observed from the review of seven payment vouchers that the FIRS made payments on behalf of staff to their respective professional bodies annual subscriptions, fees and other related charges which are linked to the career progression of the individual officers to professional bodies amounting to N26,268,640.
The report noted that Establishment Circular from the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation rd (OHCSF) with reference No. HCSF/PSO/784/III/2 of 23 January, 2009 states that “attendance of courses leading to professional qualifications shall be at the expenses of the officers themselves. As a matter of emphasis MDAs shall no longer pay for course fees and allowances for officers attending training programmes arranged or sanctioned by their respective professional bodies”.
Like in other infractions, the audit report said that auditors received no response from the FIRS on the infractions raised.
The auditor general requested the FIRS to provide reasons for the non compliance to the provisions of the Extant Circular to the Public Accounts Committees of the National Assembly, recover the sum of N26,268,640 by forwarding evidence of recovery to the Public Accounts Committees of the National Assembly; and apply sanctions relating to gross misconduct in paragraph 3129 of the Financial Regulations.
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