Senate To Probe Paris Club Refund, Questions $5.5bn External Loan

Senate Approves Electronic Voting For Elections
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The Senate is set decided to probe the Paris Club refund released so far the Federal Government to state governments and why states which benefitted from the Paris Club refund have continued to owe workers.

Its decision on Thursday followed a point of order raised by Senator Samuel Anywanwu (a member of the Peoples Democratic Party from Imo State) during plenary.

Senator Anyanwu who questioned the legality of the approval given by President Muhammadu Buhari for the release of the refund to the states, however, got the leave of the Senate to bring his proper motion on the matter on another legislative day.

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Loans has cautioned the Federal Government against reckless borrowing.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Shehu Sani, at a meeting with officials of the Ministry of Finance to discuss President Buhari’s request for external borrowing of $5.5bn sought to know why revenues from local sources cannot be used to fund the 2017 budget.

“It has become clear that if Nigeria must borrow, it must borrow responsibly. We cannot afford to mortgage the future of the unborn generation. If we must bequeath to the future generation a pile of debt it must be justified with commensurate proof of the value of the debt,” Senator Sani said.

“This debt will undoubtedly last the length of our lifetime and possibly beyond. We must leave behind a legacy that will appease and answer the questions the next generation of Nigerians will ask.”

But the Director-General of the Debt Management Office, Rachel Oniha, justified the borrowing plan explaining that it is cheaper to borrow from external sources compared to the domestic market.

“It is not the first time that Nigeria is borrowing long-term. What we should take away is that they are going into projects whose long-term benefits are long-term; the roads don’t go away, the schools don’t go away, the hospitals don’t go away,” she said.

“All that we may need to do is maintain them after this.”

Oyo State Receives 7.2b Naira Paris Club Deduction Funds

Abiola Ajimobi, Oyo State, Paris Club The Oyo State Government has confirmed the receipt of 7.2 billion naira as its share of the Paris Club over-deduction funds.

The government said the feat was achieved after spirited efforts by the State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.

The government said that 60% of the funds collected has been added to the Federal Allocation to the state to pay salaries of workers for the months of August and September 2016.

The state’s Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Toye Arulogun, made the disclosure on Wednesday during a media briefing.

Mr Arulogun explained that the funds did not come out fortuitously, but came out due to the doggedness, determination and tenacity of Governor Ajimobi in spite of the initial exclusion of Oyo State on the list of the beneficiaries.

He noted that the state government had announced in December 2016 and reiterated in early January 2017 that the state was excluded from the initial beneficiary states of Paris Club Over Deduction Funds.

The Commissioner added that the Governor had reassured the people of the state at different fora that he would work round the clock to ensure the state gets its share.

“The efforts of Governor Abiola Ajimobi have yielded fruitful results. We will all remember that Oyo State was initially excluded from the states that benefitted from the Paris Club over-deduction funds.

“The Federal Government claimed that the previous administration had already collected the state’s share.

“However, Governor Ajimobi was not at peace with the development and swung into action to ensure that the state was included on the list.

“The Governor therefore mandated the Ministry of Finance to reconcile accounts with the Federal Ministry of Finance, Abuja.

“The results of the reconciliation and the Governor’s spirited efforts led to the payment of 7.2 billion naira to Oyo State.

“We have used 60% of the funds received to pay salaries as promised by the Governor during the interfaith service of the Oyo State Government held on January 3, 2017.

“Oyo State appreciates the cooperation of the Minister and Federal Ministry of Finance officials who facilitated the payment that has brought some degree of succour to workers in the state and will enable government deliver some more projects as dividends of democracy,” Arulogun said.

Abia Govt. Promises Prudent Utilization Of Paris Club Refund

Abia Govt. Promises Prudent Utilization Of Paris Club RefundAbia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has assured Abia residents that no amount of threat or intimidation will make him misappropriate part of the Paris Club inflow meant for payment of salaries.

Speaking at a grand civic reception by the Ohanze Isiahia community in Obingwa Local Government Area, the Governor said that no amount of threat of strike by the labour union will make him change his mind.

“I am here to let you know that, no kobo from the funds will be unaccounted for, and in line with this commitment, to make good my promise I want to announce to you that this government will begin the payment of Abia State staff salaries through individual cheques to ensure that ghost workers are checked.

“I assure you that the 50% of the Paris Club refund must be used to pay salaries in line with the instruction of the Federal government.”

Meanwhile, Governor Ikpeazu has assured the Ohanze people that their secondary school will benefit from school renovations that will soon commence in the state.

He also provided 1.5 million naira for Ohanze Congress to be used for school fee of indigent youths, who are in tertiary institution.

How We Utilized N5b Paris Club Refund – Gov. Ahmed

How We Utilized N5b Paris Club Refund – Gov. AhmedKwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, has explained how the state government expended the five billion Naira collected from the federal government as refunds from the London and Paris Club loans.

According to the Governor, 1.890 billion Naira was released to local governments and state’s tertiary institutions to offset their November salaries.

“The balance,” the Governor continued “would be channeled into critical infrastructural projects and other people-oriented programmes across the state, such as the small and medium scale enterprise scheme”.

The Governor said the explanation became expedient in view of “some unfounded claims the refunds have generated”.

The Governor, who assured the people that the state government was still expecting additional refunds from the federal government in the coming months, said “when it is received, it will go towards recurrent expenditure, ongoing and new capital projects as well as other programmes like boosting the informal sector and community health insurance scheme”.

Governor Ahmed gave the breakdown of the state’s share of the loan refunds at the occasion of a send-off for retired permanent secretaries in the state.

He commended the retired permanent secretaries for their selfless service and dedication towards ensuring the smooth running of the state civil service.

Earlier, the Head of Service, Mrs Zahra Omar, said the event was the maiden edition in honour of 53 permanent secretaries who retired some years back.

She added that the intention was to appreciate them for their selfless contributions to the development and growth of the state.

Niger State Gov. Presents 108bn Naira Budget For 2017

Niger State Gov. Presents 108bn Naira Budget For 2017The Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, has presented 2017 fiscal year budget proposal of over 108 billion Naira to the state House of Assembly for passage.

The budget tagged ‘Budget of Consolidation’ is N22.9 billion and 21.27% more than the 2016 budget.

Governor Bello, while presenting the budget to the members of the state House of Assembly on Friday, said that the proposed budget comprises of a recurrent expenditure of N48,047,960,278 which is 44.45% of the budget and Capital Expenditure of N60,026,337,973 which is 55.55% of the budget size.

The Governor stated that the budget would be generated through Statutory Allocation of N50,695,206,724, Value Added Tax (VAT) of N8,793,474,040, Internally Generated Revenue of N12,403,874,117, Paris Club loan N13,400,000,000 and Capital Receipts of N22,781,770,379.

He further said that the budget would focus on Youth and Women Empowerment as they constitute a large part of the population; completion of projects; enhancement of IGR; re-introduction of teachers’ colleges; transformation of education and development of waterworks.

The Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Ahmed Marafa, in his remark, said that the lawmakers would ensure the passage of the bill in a shortest possible time and would intensify effort in monitoring the 2017 budget performance so as to provide social amenities to the people in the state.

The Commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism, Hon Jonathan Vatsa,  while reacting to the budget presented by the Governor to the state House of Assembly, says that the Governor has good intentions for the people of the state focusing on youths and women empowerment and re-introduction of teachers colleges, transformation of education in the state.

Governors Ask FG To Review Revenue Sharing Formula

Governors-Nigeria Governors Forum-Revenue Sharing FormulaThe Nigeria Governors Forum on Thursday asked the Federal Government to review the revenue sharing formula.

The governors insisted that what comes to them should be increased, stressing that states were the custodians of the natural resources in Nigeria.

The Chairman of the governors’ forum, Mr Abdullaziz Yari, disclosed this to State House correspondents after their meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on the way out of the economic crunch the states were facing.

Other demands include 18 months moratorium from the Federal Government on the bail out loans and the remitting of what they called ‘hanging funds’ owed them by the Federal Government after Nigeria’s exit from the Paris Club in 2005.

They lamented that a situation where some of them could not pay salaries of workers in their states was so embarrassing.

Beyond the bailout fund, the governors have listed a programme for the Federal Government to restructure the states’ economy in the short, medium and long terms.

According to Governor Yari of Zamfara State, President Buhari was said to have graciously accepted their demands.

He added that the President asked that a committee comprising the Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, be set up to look into all the matters.

Jonathan vows to recover stolen subsidy money

President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday expressed his commitment in recovering all funds stolen by marketers from the petroleum subsidy scheme.

The president, who said this in Abuja at the launch of a Book titled; “Reforming the Un-reformable” written by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said corrupt officials and fraudsters in Nigeria would not be spared as culprits would be severely punished to serve as deterrence to others.

President Jonathan, who was represented at the event by Vice President Namadi Sambo, said the government is taking every measure to recover all stolen funds from those who defrauded the government in the Petroleum Subsidy Scheme.

He said his administration was committed to reforming all the sectors of the economy and is doing all in its power in creating jobs for the unemployed youth across the country.

“Let me assure you that my administration is not only committed to reform, we are indeed building on some of the reform measures initiated by my predecessors.

“On the governance front, we are going after those who commit various economic crimes and corrupt practices with impunity.

“As you may be aware, government is taking every legal measure to ensure that those who defraud the government in the petroleum subsidy scheme are made to pay back the stolen funds, and also are severely punished.”

President Jonathan commended Ms Okonjo-Iweala for documenting some of the important reforms embarked upon by his administration.

“On a personal note, I see this publication as an attestation of patriotism on the part of the author. As an administration, we shall always support such enterprise, for the purpose of setting the records straight.

“The central message of this important book is hope – hope that Nigeria can reform, and grow to become one of the world’s most dynamic economies.

“In the past, there was a lot of cynicism about Nigeria. Many people claimed that the political and economic institutions of this country could never be reformed.

“I commend this book for documenting some of the important reforms, which have occurred in Nigeria since our recent democratic transition.”

He congratulated the author of the book for contributing richly to the advancement of governance scholarship.

“I am aware that many people may have read about Nigeria’s debt relief from the Paris Club, about the privatisation programme, or about the establishment of the excess crude account from newspapers.

“In this book, you will find a concise, well-organised discussion of all these policy measures without the big, technical, ‘grammar’ and jargon.”

He, therefore, urged State Governors and Local Government Chairmen to avail themselves copies of the book for smooth implementation of the reform programme at the sub-national levels.

Speaking on the purpose of the book, Ms Okonjo-Iweala said the essence of the book was to engender hope in Nigerians.

She said the book was also meant for Nigeria to learn from her past experience to shape her future, saying that the book was not her biography.

Professor Paul Collier of the Oxford University, South African Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan and the Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, who reviewed the 198-page book, all identified sound rules and effective institutions as the important pillars for sustained economic development.