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FG approves N28bn support loan for 35 states


… Each state gets N800m to pay salaries, pensions

The Federal Government may have succumbed to pressures from some state governors, as it has approved and directed the release of N28billion to 35 states of the federation, excluding Lagos state, as budget support facility.

Giving the approval, each of the states is to get a minimum of N800million to enable them to meet part of their salary obligations, pensions and other infrastructural needs.

The releases were finalised on Thursday at the end of the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

The Daily Times recalls that despite billions of naira released to states from the fall out of the Paris Club refunds, a number of states were still indebted to their workers, prompting mass protests and social unrest in the states.

Some of the governors who had come under criticisms for mismanaging the funds, had been making frantic efforts to persuade FG to release the balance of the Paris Club debt refund to them.

But, the Minister of Budget and National Planning,Senator Udoma Udoma, while briefing State House Correspondents, said the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and the Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefile had been directed to effect payments of the Budget Support Loan Facility to each of the states.

Udoma said that the Accountant General of the Federation reported to the Council that approval has been received; and the CBN has been directed to pay N800m to each of the 35 states.

“Governors expressed appreciation to the Federal Government for the restoration of the Budget Support Loan Facility for July and August 2017,”he said.

On the balance in the Excess Crude Account, the Accountant General of the Federation placed the balance as at November 17, 2017, at $2,309,693,583.35bn, while the stabilization fund account as at November 17, 2017, also stood at N6,689,072,836.11bn; while the natural resources development fund, the balance stood at N100,314,169, 190.23bn as at November 17, 2017.

Udoma, who gave an update on the state of the Nigerian economy, said signs of recovery had been observed since Q3 2016; and the recovery consolidated in Q3 2017 with GDP doubling to 1.40% Non-oil GDP contracts in Q3 2017 by 0.76% after growing in Q1 R Q2, 2017.

He noted that the services’ sector was still in the negative, adding that the manufacturing sector also grew negative in Q3 2017.

“Due to high inflationary pressures household consumption expenditures remain constrained, though it appears such pressure is easing.

“Headline inflation has declined since January reflecting tight monetary policy Food price increases have remained persistent but slowing down.
“The total value of capital importation at the end 2017 of Q3 stood at $4.14bn (131.3% growth year on year),” he stated.

A forensic audit of revenue, which accrued from the revenue generating agencies also came under review.

The audit, which covered the period from 2010- May 2015, was constituted to look into areas of possible under remittances from certain Revenue Generating Agencies to the Federation Account, among others.

NEC got wind that there were some questionable loans granted by some of the revenue generating agencies.

Out of the 18 agencies in which forensic audit was conducted, the committee completed work on 13 Agencies, two ongoing and three are not revenue generating.

The 13 include: NIMASA, NNPC, NPA, FIRS, NPDC, DPR, while the two outstanding are Customs Service and NCC. Osinbajo however directed the committee to conclude its report in four weeks; and report back to Council in the next meeting.

Electoral matters also came under review during the NEC meeting, while it lasted.

The National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) gave an overview of how Solar-Powered Electronic Voting Solution with Cloud-Based Collation of Election results could be adopted to boost our electoral processes.

NASENI said there was an homegrown proposal to the NEC for the replacement of the “Card Reader” in the conduct of elections in the country.

The agency said the proposal, if adopted, would see “Solar-Powered Electronic Voting System” effectively mitigating current electronic woes.

“The new proposed robust e-voting device will minimize human interference with electoral process. The same proposal, which has already been presented to INEC, is also expected to be presented to the National Assembly,” it added.

Mathew Dadiya, Abuja

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