|Sen. Magnus Abe|
The Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) says the total salary of its 249 staff for the 2012 fiscal year is N5.7 billion, prompting concerns from federal lawmakers that the figures were too high.PPPRA executive secretary Reginald Stanley disclosed the staff salaries yesterday at a budget defence before a joint committee of the National Assembly on petroleum resources (downstream).
Based on the total wage figures he gave, the average salary per worker at the agency stands at N23,694,780 for 2012, which is much higher than the annual salary of a permanent secretary.
Some of the National Assembly committee members including their chairman Senator Magnus Abe were alarmed by the huge salary figures.
“N5.725 billion for 249 workers? In this country?” Abe asked.
The committee members were enraged by what they saw as Stanley’s inability to provide documents backing the salary expenditure profile. Because of that, the committee stopped the budget defense session and ordered the management of the agency to report back on a date to be fixed later.
Abe did not say specifically what the committee will do about the salaries of PPPRA staff but said the amounts budgeted for government agencies were subject to review by legislators.
Stanley also told the committee that his agency gets 15 kobo on every litre of petroleum sold in the country as administrative charges, prompting further questions from lawmakers on how the monies generated were spent.
Abe said it was an offence for ministries, department and agencies to spend funds outside the Appropriation Act, adding: “If that has been going on in the past, we should put a final stop to it, it shouldn't happen again.”
He added: “I want to bring to your attention, the attitude of some of our operators in the sector who always think that except appropriations are drawn directly from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, they are not accountable to the parliament for it.
“I want to make it very clear that, except the money you get from your father’s farm or your grandfather’s farm is spent, any amount that comes through you or to you is expended through any agency as part of the public responsibility is subject to a review by Nigerians and the National Assembly that represents the interest of Nigerians.
“Nobody can receive money on behalf of Nigerians, spend it on his own behalf without recourse to the National Assembly. I say it with a particular reference to agencies that are by law allowed to generate and make their own expenditures.”
Also speaking, the chairman of the House of Representatives committee on petroleum (downstream), Peterside Dakuku, said, “In this era of reforms, one great tool to reform is the budget. That is why we’re taking our budgetary process very seriously.”