The Public Account Committee, (PAC) of the House of Representatives has beamed its searchlight on the Nigerian Port Authority, NPA and Terminal Operators (Nigeria) Limited over $68,473m debts owed the Federal Government on lease and Throughput fair between 2006 and June 2022
The Committee is also investigating the Terminal Operator for using own exchange rate different from the official one approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN in calculating revenue accuring to the Federal government
All were contained in the query from the office of the Auditor General of the Federation.
The Managing Director of the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) Mohammed Bello-Koko had indicated in a submission to the Committee that one of the Port operators in charge of the Rivers Port, and Terminal Operators (Nigeria) Limited used its own exchange rate in calculating revenue accruing to the Nigerian government
The NPA boss stated in the Submission that PTOL used N116 to the dollar at a time when the official exchange rate was fixed at N305 to the dollar by the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2016.
The submission dated 27th July, 2022 which was in response to a letter from the committee also revealed that even while using another exchange rate of N151 agreed to after reconciliation, the terminal operator was still indebted to the government to the tune of $68.473 million as at 13th October, 2021.
The Auditor General of the Federation had indicted the company for not paying its lease fees and throughout fee to the government as at when due.
However, in its submission, the company claimed that contrary to the report of the Auditor General, it had been paying its lease fees and Throughput fee to the Nigeria Port Authority as at when due contrary to the AuGF report.
A supporting document submitted by the NPA to the House committee tabulated the payments made by two concessionaires (BUA and PTOL) on lease and Throughput fees between 2006 and June 2022.
A close study of the document however showed a huge disparity in the figures being owed the government by the company.
For example, while the document suggested that in 2008, PTOL was given a bill of $11,333,333.31 and paid $3,333,333.31, outstanding balance against them was put at $17,194,444.67 instead of $8,000,000.
Similarly, in 2019, the bill given to the company for its operation at the Rivers Port Complex stood at $10,080,000.00.
However, while the document indicated that they paid $3,000,000, outstanding balance against them was put at $102,714,749.66, a figure far above the bill given to it as its lease fee.
However, the NPA letter reads: “Your letter dated 20th, July 2022 to the Authority refers to the historical background of the debt profile of PTOL to NPA dated back to – the inception of the concession, in 2006.
“These issues revolve around the inability of the Operator to make payment on its lease fees as signed with BPE and NPA.
PTOL gave the following reasons among others for its indebtedness to NPA:
“Amortization of berth 1-3. The difference in-amortization carried out by PTOL and what was recognized by NPA was significant when converted from dollar to naira.
“NPA relied on the existing exchange rate given by CBN at 305 as at year 2016, at the time of reconciliation while PTOL used N116 to a dollar, being the -rate of dollar at the time of reconstruction.
“After reconciliation, a N151 to dollar was adopted, as stipulated in the supplemental agreement. The difference in valuation amounted to $11,068,187.16 and a credit note was issued on the 5th June, 2020.
“PTOL claimed no operation happened at the berth during the construction period of 2007 – 2009, hence loss of revenue. PTOL claimed 6 vessels were handled by NPA after the signing of the lease’ agreement. And a refund of 50% stevedoring element was considered.
“Huge disparity in lease fees charged compared to BUA. Disparity in existing draft with the initial advertised draft of 10 meters.
Security concerns at the Eastern Port. Oil and Gas related cargo vessel diversion to Onne Port, which they claimed affected their revenue.”
The letter said further that the outstanding debt profile as at June, 2019 against PTOL in NPA records stood at $100,985,846.82 while PTOL acknowledge only $77 ,976,788.81.
It indicated further that at a joint meeting with BPE, PTOL and NPA on the 14th December 2021 on resolving the outstanding debts of the terminal operator, a further reconciliation was carried out by NPA and PTOL at the Rivers Port.
It said the highlights of the reconciliation showed that “an implementation of a further reduction of 25% lease fee review granted by the Ministry of Transport and BPE in June, 2015.
“This was predicated on the terminal operator paying a Guarantee Minimum Tonnage (GMT) penalty of $2,849,404.41. This review was not Implemented by failure of PTOL to pay the stipulated penalty. A further agreement to issue a credit note of $1,940,821.16 for the
period the detained vessels were at the PTOL berth. These vessels were detained by various government agencies.”
The letter also said that a credit note of $11,821,500.16 was raised for the non-utilization in the berth during the reconstruction of berth 1 – 3 undertaken by PTOL.
It stressed that the second round of reconciliation report is yet to be approved by the Board of the NPA before its dissolution by the Honorable Minister of Transport, while the
report has been forwarded to the reconstituted board and is currently being considered.
It said that after these reconciliations, PTOL debt profile to NPA stood at $68,473,637.72 as at 13th October,2021.
Determined to get to the root of the matter, Committee has directed both the NPA boss and the terminal Operator to appear before it on Tuesday for further investigation.