The House of Representatives Committee investigating non-remittances and non-utilisation of funds to the National Housing Fund has summoned the Accountant General of the Federation, Mrs Oluwatoyin Sakirat, to appear before it to explain why monies deducted from workers’ salaries are not remitted to the fund.
Hon Dachung Bagos, Chairman of the Committee, issued the summons on Thursday during the committee meeting in Abuja.
The Accountant General is also expected to explain why there are variances in deductions from government workers and why just N20 billion has been transferred to the Federal Mortgage Bank since 2011.
Representatives of the Director of the Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System, Ekwem Dem, told the committee at the hearing that while withdrawals from workers’ wages were automatic, remittances were not.
He could not, however, tell the committee how much has been withdrawn as Housing Fund from workers since 2011, claiming that even though they had the information, he needs to “query the system” before responding.
According to papers provided to the committee by the Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System, N23, 000 was withdrawn from the University of Calabar for NHF for one month, while Federal Polytechnic, Birnin Kebbi paid N9, 000.
They requested that the Accountant General provide the committee with information on what money has been deducted from workers thus far, when it was deducted, and why the money has not been remitted.
Hon. Timehin Adelegbe, a committee member, stated that “if the deduction is automated, the remittances should also be automated.”
The Committee further requested that the Accountant General remit any deductions from the Housing Fund to the Federal Mortgage Bank with immediate effect and provide the committee with a receipt.
Madu Hamman, Managing Director of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), has requested that the Committee alter the laws creating the Bank and the National Housing Fund to give the NHF more effect.
According to Hamman, the bank has received approximately N591. 523 billion in remittances from both the formal and informal sectors of the Nigerian economy since 2011, with N238. 557 billion collected from government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies.
He further stated that the bank owed the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation around N26. 573 billion.
Giving a breakdown of the outstanding payment, he stated that the Accountant General incorrectly deducted approximately N11.6 billion from worker remittances to the bank between October and December 2022 as part of government revenue, mistaking the remittances for revenue going into the bank.
“We had to explain to them that the money was remittances of workers contributions to the NHF prior to the deduction being stopped through Treasury Single Account,” he said.
He further stated that the IPPIS failed to remit around N11. 587 billion deducted from workers’ pay between January 2022 and December 2022, as well as another N3. 356 billion between April and July 2021.
He revealed that National Housing Fund contributors are eligible for a complete return of their contributions with accrued interest of 2% upon retirement after reaching the age of 60 or unable to continue contributing due to incapacity or death.
He stated that the Bank had so far repaid N66. 678 billion to 444,637 people, and that approximately N347. 570 billion of the N591.523 billion received for the Nation Housing Fund during the time was invested in various projects backed by the Bank.
Cooperative Housing Development Loan (N44.019 billion), NHF Mortgage Loan (N139.095 billion), Ministerial Pilot Housing Scheme (N38.037 billion), TUC/NLC/NECA housing scheme (31.659 billion), Individual construction loan (N269.044 million), Home Renovation Loan (N92.468 billion), and Rent to Own (N2.021 billion) are among the projects funded.
He identified some of the significant difficulties as having an overconcentration of Primary Mortgage Banks in Lagos and Abuja, whereas none exist in most states of the Federation, and that the country has just 34 Primary Mortgage Banks.
He also stated that the discrepancies between the FMBN laws and the CBN wise guideline on single obligation limits for PMBs are harming loan distribution by nanks, as well as the majority of contributors’ inability to afford loans due to low income.