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– The Federal Government will be keeping a keen eye on the way in which the disbursed Paris Club funds will be spent by Governors in Nigeria
– The ministry of finance is set to release about N522 billion second tranche of the Paris Club refund to states
– There are controversies regarding the utilisation of the funds, hence, the FG will pay close attention as the governor’s carryout required tasks
Kemi Adeosun, the minister of finance, on Monday, March 20, stated that the Federal Government would within 12 months carry out a detailed review of the claims submitted by the states as over- deduction on the Paris Club debt.
She said that while the states had all submitted their respective claims, President Muhammadu Buhari had reached an agreement with the governors that the reconciliation process be concluded within one year.
Punch reports that Adeosun in a statement issued by her meedia adviser, Festus Akanbi, explained that while the debt management office had initially requested for a period of 22 months to complete the reconciliation and facilitate disbursement; the president, after considering the plight of salary earners, directed that the exercise be completed within 12 months.
She described the directive by the president last week for the release of up to 50 per cent of the claims of each state pending final reconciliation as “anticipatory approval,” adding that reconciliation was currently being undertaken by the DMO, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and the relevant state governments.
Accordingly, the minister explained that the disbursements were staggered in batches and payments would only be made when the claims of each state had been reconciled with the facts at the disposal of the Federal Government.
Vanguard reports that the ministry of finance is in the process of releasing about N522 billion second tranche of the Paris Club refund to states amid controversies over the terms for the releases.
Key controversial areas are the alleged fraud in the utilisation of the first tranche and alleged uneven treatment of the states in the transaction, as some states were said to have got excess of what was due to them, while others got far less.
Following the development, the finance ministry, yesterday, responded to the allegations in a statement, indicating it was going ahead with the releases while all controversies would also be addressed.
This it would do through a combined action of independent investigations, government audit and reconciliation of the accounts as well as involvement of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in investigating the alleged fraudulent misapplication of the first tranche.
Kemi Adeosun, who noted that the terms of the refunds remained sacrosanct, however, said it was not possible to publish how much each state received since the exercise had not been concluded.
Adeosun said: “The Minister of Finance has deemed it necessary to address the issue of Paris Club Refunds and wishes to assure the public that the Federal Government has consistently complied with all extant rules and regulations in the disbursement of the Paris Club refunds to state governments.
“The Federal Government’s disbursement process is transparent and targeted at the attainment of specific economic objectives. The inability of some sub-national governments to meet salary and other obligations was considered inconsonant with the Federal Government’s economic stimulus programme. Claims with regard to over deductions had been made to the Federal Government, consistently since 2005. “
The Debt Management Office (DMO) initially requested for a period of 22 months to complete the reconciliation and facilitate disbursement.
‘’However, President Muhammadu Buhari, considering the plight of salary earners and pensioners and the need to stimulate the economy, directed that the exercise be completed within 12 months.”
“In addition, Mr President gave an express Anticipatory Approval for the release of up to 50% of the claim of each state, pending final reconciliation. That reconciliation is undertaken by the DMO, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) and the relevant state governments.
‘’Accordingly, the disbursements are staggered in batches and payments are only made when the claims of each state have been reconciled with the facts at the disposal of the Federal Government.
“The Minister of Finance would like to reaffirm the commitment of the administration to publish all relevant information on the Paris Club refunds, ” Adeosun buttressed.