By Philomina Attah
Abuja – The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says it has drawn up guidelines for the management of relief funds by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to prevent corruption.
Spokesperson of the commission, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.
Okoduwa said the move was in pursuant of the corruption prevention mandate of the ICPC as enshrined in Section 6 (b)-(d) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
She explained that the guidelines were also in furtherance of an independent COVID-19 Funds Monitoring Team recently set up by the commission.
The committee is charged with monitoring of the “disbursement and utilisation of the funds, donations and other receipts mobilised toward combating the outbreak of the Coronavirus in the country”.
Okoduwa said one of the key provisions of the guidelines was the Bank Accounts Policy, which “allows the Chairman of the PTF the discretion to designate bank accounts solely for the collection of funds and donations.”
The policy, she said, also designates “a specific bank account that receipts are swept into for expenditure whose signatories, though appointed by the Chairman, PTF shall not have approving powers.
“Reconciliations of the accounts and books maintained shall be submitted to the Chairman, PTF, monthly,” she said.
The ICPC’s statement came after President Muhammadu Buhari issued new directives on COVID-19 donations to the country to ensure prudence, transparency and accountability in their utilisation.
Mr Henshaw Ogubike, the Director of Information and Press in the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, announced the presidential directive in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.
Ogubike said the president had approved the opening of five COVID-19 Donor Accounts which form part of the existing Treasury Single Account arrangement in five commercial banks.
As of the time of filing this report, it was not clear whether the presidential directive got inputs from the ICPC guidelines.
Okoduwa said the guidelines also contained Expenditures and Payments provision which “requires payments to vendors, suppliers and ad hoc staff to be mainly by bank transfer after they have made supplies or rendered service in order to leave trails.”
“Furthermore, the responsibility for procurements rests on the shoulders of the Chairman, PTF and all such procurements are required to adhere to the provisions of Section 43 of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 in the emergency period.
“Additionally, all post-COVID-19 procurements must comply fully with the comprehensive provisions of the procurement law.
“The guidelines also require all cash advances to be subject to the Financial Regulations (FR) and Public Service Rules (PSR).
“Petty cash advances may be made to an officer for petty cash transactions as approved by the Chairman, PTF.
“Officials, who receive such advances shall be personally accountable and financially liable for the custody and management of the advances.
“They must account for the advances at any given time and are to report weekly to the Chairman or as he may direct,” the ICPC spokesperson said.
Okoduwa added that the guidelines contained specific provisions to take care of approval thresholds, audit, monitoring and evaluation.
She said they encouraged the task force to “engage the active participation of individuals or groups outside the public sector to enhance accountability, transparency and promote public participation and contribution”.
“This is to ensure that information is made available to the public and for them to provide feedback through the ICPC toll-free telephone lines, email, social media platforms, etc. to eliminate the suspicion of corruption.
“The guidelines shall not apply to donations and receipts from the private sector unless they are given to the Task Force to manage,” she said.