Between November 25 and December 19, the amount in the Excess Crude Account declined by about $1.68bn, statistics obtained from the Federation Account Allocation Committee have revealed.
As of November 25 when the FAAC committee meeting was held to allocate revenue for that month, the balance in the ECA was put at $2.319bn.
However, at the resumed meeting on Wednesday at the headquarters of the ministry of finance, the balance, according to the Permanent Secretary in ministry, Mahmoud Dutse, had dropped to just $631m.
Dutse, who briefed journalists shortly after the meeting, said withdrawals were made by the Federal Government from the ECA to settle the last tranche of the Paris Club Refund.
Dutse did not provide the amount withdrawn but the analysis by The Punch showed that about $1.68bn might have been withdrawn during the three weeks period.
He said, “The balance in the ECA is $631m. The final payment for the Paris Club Refund to states was made and the figure was deducted and that’s what accounts for the difference.”
When reminded that it was wrong for such deductions to be made for such purpose, he replied that the committee got an approval from President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Executive Council before making the withdrawal.
He said, “A decision was taken to make this refund and part of that decision is that the refund should be funded from the ECA. Federal Executive Council, the President approved the money.”
The Accountant-General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris, when accosted on his way out of the meeting to clarify the withdrawal, said that due process was followed before the withdrawal was made.
“You can go and find out from the National Assembly if we got approval for it but due process was followed before the fund was released.”