From Fred Itua, Abuja
Senators and some heads of Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs), yesterday, disagreed over plans by the Federal Government to take over the management of unclaimed dividends to fund the budget.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, while appearing before the Senate Committee on Finance, said the funds will be managed by the Debt Management Office (DMO).
She said: “Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo- Agege, raised a question on the deposit in the various dormant accounts. I want to say the same provisions was made in the proposed amendments.
The same provision that affects unclaimed dividends will also affect unclaimed deposit in the dormant accounts.
“On the issue of unclaimed dividends, what the government is proposing is in line with the provisions of the constitution. Any funds that is lying fallow after a certain period of time cannot be taken over but such funds could be borrowed. The Unit Trust is a borrowing arrangement of the government.
“At the moment, the DMO issues securities to the registrars in case owners of such unclaimed dividends or deposit in dormant accounts come forward to claim their entitlement.
“The reason the DMO would be in charge of the unclaimed dividends and deposit in dormant accounts is because it has the mandate to manage debts on behalf of the government. That is why we recommend that the DMO as against to SEC, should manage the funds. It is possible that a different arrangement is in place in other jurisdiction but I want to state that in the amended CAMA, there is a provision that had modified the section that mandates the registrars to return unclaimed dividends after 12 years to the companies that paid the dividends in the first instance.
“Rather than the companies to collect back the money and redistribute, government wanted to manage the funds.”
Ahmed said the fund management that would be set up would give details of the procedure of how the funds, which representative of the Security and Exchange Commission, Abdulkadir Abbas, estimated over N150 billion, would be managed.