From Paul Osuyi, Asaba

The Delta State Government has explained why it is investing N20 billion in the UTM Offshore Limited Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) project in Warri.

The N20 billion, which is a loan the government is seeking from Fidelity Bank following approval by the state House of Assembly, is an additional investment of 3% equity in the gas project.

Addressing the media in Asaba, Commissioner for Information Charles Aniagwu said that the state stands to gain a lot from the investment.

Aniagwu said apart from yielding profit in the long run, the project would create employment for the people of the state as well as boost its internally generated revenue.

According to Aniagwu, the company was at peace in siteing the gas project in the state because the state government was investing in it.

Also reacting to concerns that the outgoing administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa was in the market again for N20 billion and another N100 billion, Aniagwu insisted that the N100 billion was not a fresh loan

He declared that Delta is the most solvent state in Nigeria, noting that if the Federal Government was to pay what it is owing the state, the present administration would not leave any debt behind.

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Throwing more light on the controversial N100 billion, Commissioner for Finance, Fidelis Tilije said it was an existing discounting facility for which the executive only sought the consent of the House of Assembly to the lead agent.

Tilije said the government discovered that the lead agent as at when the facility was initiated, was not moving as fast as desired, hence the need for the change.

“It is that same N100 billion discounting facility that we had to go to the House of Assembly again last week because we found out that the lead agent of that same N100 billion facility was not moving as fast as we would have wanted.

“What we did last week, was to go back, in the same spirit of transparency and accountability, to seek their consent to enable us to change the lead bank for the discounting facility.

“That is all that we did. It is not a new loan, it is not a new discounting facility, it is not a new bridging finance, not all, it is still the same N100 billion that we have been speaking about since then till now.

“All we did was to change the lead bank to another lead, that is the reason why we had to go to the House,” he said.

Tilije also disclosed that the state has received another quarterly tranche of N4.9 billion as refunds from the Federal Government on the accrued N240 billion, bringing the total refunds on the 13% derivation policy so far to N19.6 billion in four instalments.