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FG granted no duty waiver for bulletproof cars, says Okonjo-Iweala

FG granted no duty waiver for bulletproof cars, says Okonjo-Iweala

FG granted no duty waiver for bulletproof cars, says Okonjo-Iweala

The Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Monday said that the Federal Government did not grant a duty waiver to Coscharis Limited to purchase the two controversial bulletproof BMW cars for the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
The cars were, however, alleged to have been for the personal use of the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah.
The minister, who testified before the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation in Abuja over the transaction which was reported to have cost N255 million, said the bulletproof cars were not among the 300 units of cars for which the Lagos State government applied for waiver in favour of Coscharis Limited.
It was reported that the 300 vehicles were for use by Lagos State during the Sports Festival tagged “Eko 2012”.
Okonjo-Iweala told the Committee: “I was asked through your letter to shed more light on the alleged waiver granted by the Ministry of Finance for the purchase of the two vehicles.
“What I know of the matter is that on June 23, 2012, the Lagos State Government applied to the President for waiver, as is normally done for inspection charges and duty exemption for assorted brands of vehicles, in favour of Coscharis Motors for the conduct of the 18th National Sports Festival or the Eko Games.
“Having met all due requirements for such a waiver, Lagos State was granted this waiver for the import of 300 units of various types, and this was granted. What I know is that on this list, there was no mention of bulletproof cars, and that is all I want to say. So, no waiver was granted for bulletproof cars.”
The minister stated that the decision by the Presidency was in accordance with laid down rules and procedure, noting: “The law on the common external tariffs guided our tariff policy. It has a provision by His Excellency to provide waivers under certain conditions.
“In the case of these imports for games, the country has no leasing business per se on a large scale that can be used to get this number of cars for officials, so states normally apply.
“So, if they have shown what the cost of these units are, how they are going to be used and so on and so forth, then we go through and the application is made, the waiver is granted if all the facts are clear. It is under that particular law.”
When asked by Zakari Mohammed to throw light on whether her colleague in the Aviation Ministry, Oduah, acted appropriately by approving money for the procurement of the cars far above her monetary approval threshold, she said: “I do not really feel it is my place to give advice on this particular matter.
“With regard to the issue on procurements with limits and so on, it is proper to perhaps refer to the procurement law, which has all the limits for the various levels of approval. We have procurement laws and reference to that is far better than my giving extempore guidance.”
She declined to give details of the value of the vehicles, stating that it was within the domain of the revenue department that did the calculations based on the submissions given to them to do that.
However, the meeting ended abruptly when members who sought clarifications in respect of the alleged purchase of two bulletproof cars were rebuffed by the Committee Chairman, Nkiruka Onyejiocha.
Desperate attempts by the members to elicit further reaction from the minister were equally turned down by Onyejiocha, a development that did not go down well with the members, including Jerry Manwe and Nasir Ali Ahmed.
Specifically, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) had disclosed that the Federal Government lost over N10 million following the purchase of the two cars.
Making a submission during the second day of the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation hearing on the purchase of the cars, Deputy Comptroller-General, Public Relations, Manasah Jatau, said that Coscharis deceived the National Security Adviser (NSA) to get the import waiver for the two vehicles.
“The duty payable was supposed to be N10,133,505.74 million, but that duty was not paid because the said import has an import duty exemption certificate (IDEC) number BO/R.102/S.3/V.111B/73 of 20/11/2012 issued by the Federal Ministry of Finance, issued to the Lagos State Government (the beneficiary) through Messrs Coscharis Motors Limited for the 18th National Sports Festival (Eko 2012).
“The end user number is 000001672 of June 6, 2013, and it was issued by the office of the NSA. That is the information we have.”
According to Okonjo-Iweala, “SWF is crafted for the federation; it can only receive money when all the participants collectively pay. Except there is voluntary contributor through the National Economic Council, there can be no additional deposit into the fund.
“The NEC (National Executive Council) agreed that there should be N1 billion in the SWF; since then, there had been no deposit. Except the federal, states and local councils agree to put their money there, the account remains like that because no tier of government has made voluntary payment. The NEC is in the best position to answer the question.”
She further informed the Ahmed Makarfi-led committee that a total of N1.01 trillion has been released to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) from the capital vote of N1.05 trillion as provided for in the 2013 budget.
Also, another N150 billion was released Monday from the N400 billion balance in the capital vote, she added, stating that N14.06 billion accrued to the excess crude account in 2013, out of which N9 billion was spent.
Briefing the committee on the usage of monies that accrued to the account, Okonjo-Iweala said that N4.3 trillion is the balance in the account.
On steps being taken to address the shortfalls in oil revenue, she said: “We have been very open and clear on the issue of shortfall in crude production.
“The President has set up a committee headed by Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, which also has as members all the governors in the Niger Delta region, the ministers of Defence, Petroleum and Finance, the NNPC, heads of the arms of the military and other security agencies to address the issue.
“The FG is committed to the issue of shortfall in production, which is a major headache to the nation’s economic resources. We hope the work of the committee will go a long way to tackle the problems, including the shutting down of oil pipeline.
“There are two pipelines being controlled by Shell that had been completely shut down. If these could be revived, it will go a long way to address the issue at hand.”
 
 
 
 
 
 

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