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From Uche Usim, Abuja
As various states seek the release of the second tranche of the Paris Club refund, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, yesterday, released guidelines for further disbursement in line with extant rules and regulations.
Adeosun, who said the Ministry was reconciling its books with those of various states on the monies earlier released to ensure it was used for the intended purpose, noted that the overriding consideration for any further releases will be the current and projected cash flows of the federation as well as the outcome of the independent monitoring of compliance with terms and conditions attached to the previous releases.
According to her, the release of the first tranche, representing up to 25 per cent of the claims, being N522.7 billion commenced in December 2016.
She noted that the Federal Government’s disbursement process was transparent and targeted at the attainment of specific economic objectives.
“Disbursement was subject to an agreement by state governments that 50 per cent of any amount received would be earmarked for the payment of salaries and pensions. In addition, each governor gave an undertaking that excess payments would be recovered from the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC), if the final reconciliation found that the amount paid under the anticipatory approval exceeded that due.
“It is standard practice in the Ministry of Finance to undertake independent monitoring of compliance with the terms and conditions of funds released. This will be conducted in due course,” she said.
Adeosun revealed that till date, nine batches have been processed while some balances remain outstanding to the possible credit of a number of states. “Given the foregoing, complete and final figures can only be released and published after each state and the Federal Government have reconciled and agreed on the sums due. 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,” she stated.
The Minister said 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 per cent 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.
“Specifically, information was available that some states had been paid either in full or in part under previous administrations. This necessitated a more detailed review for the states in question,” she explained.
Recall that at the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting on March 16, 2017, President Buhari instructed the Minister of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor to commence the process of resolving the balance of the approved amount.