FG releases Paris Club refund details to states

Ifeanyi Onuba, Abuja

Facts have emerged as to how the Federal Government allocated the first tranche of N516.38bn reimbursement made to the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory from the Paris Club debt refund.

Based on the schedule of reimbursement, which was released by the Ministry of Finance on Friday in Abuja, five states got the highest amounts of refund from the Federal Government.

The states are Rivers, which got N34.92bn; Delta, N27.6bn; Akwa Ibom, N25.98bn; Bayelsa, N24.89bn; and Kano, N21.7bn.

Analysis of the payment schedule showed that the five states got a total sum of N135.09bn, representing 26.1 per cent of the entire amount refunded by the Federal Government to all the states.

Lagos got N16.74bn; Katsina, N16.4bn; Kaduna, N15.44bn; Borno, N14.68bn; Jigawa, N14.2bn; Imo, N14.01bn; Niger, N14.42bn; Bauchi, N13.75bn; Sokoto, N12.88bn; and Osun, N12.62bn.

Others are Cross River, N12.15bn; Anambra, N12.24bn; Edo, N12.18bn; Kebbi, N11.95bn; Kogi, N11.05bn; Abia, N11.43bn; Ogun, N11.47bn; and Plateau, N11.28bn.

Similarly, Yobe State got N10.82bn; Zamfara, N10.88bn; Ebonyi, N9.01bn; Ekiti, N9.54bn; Enugu, N10.7bn; Gombe, N8.95bn; Nasarawa, N9.1bn; Oyo, N13.31bn; while Kwara got N10.24bn.

The rest are Adamawa, N10.25bn; Benue, N13.7bn; Ondo, N14.01bn; Taraba, N9.32bn; and the Federal Capital Territory, N1.36bn.

A statement signed by the Director of Information in the Finance ministry, Salisu Dambatta, said the payments were made upon the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari on November 21, 2016.

This is in partial settlement of long standing claims by state governments relating to over-deduction from their Federation Account Allocation Committee allocations for external debt service arising between 1995 and 2002.

The deductions were in respect of the Paris Club, London Club and multilateral debts of the Federal Government and the states.

While Nigeria reached a final agreement for debt relief with the Paris Club in October 2005, some states, according to the statement, had already been overcharged.

The statement read in part, “The funds were released to state government as part of the wider efforts to stimulate the economy and were specifically designed to support states in meeting salary and other obligations, thereby alleviating the challenges faced by workers.

“The releases were conditional upon a minimum of 50 per cent being applied to the payment of workers’ salaries and pensions. The Federal Ministry of Finance is reviewing the impact of these releases on the level of arrears owed by state governments.

“A detailed report is being compiled for presentation to the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, as part of the process for approval for the release of any subsequent tranches.”

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