From Osakhare Erese, Asaba
The Delta State Government has disagreed with the Federal Government over alleged accusation that the states external loans’ debt was N16 trillion out of the N19 trillion, saying the figures allegedly quoted do not represent the true position of the external loans.
The State Government specifically stated that out of the N19 trillion, the states are only responsible for N3trillion, adding that it was not true as emphatically published by Federal Government.
Expectedly, the Federal Government had recently published that the states were responsible for the huge sums of external loans to the tune of N16trillion out of N19trillion. But the Delta State Commissioner for Finance, Mr. David Edevbie at a media briefing yesterday in Asaba told journalists that the Federal Government’s figures were misleading and untrue.
The Commissioner visibly angry with what he described as “shifting blames” added that the state had received the sum of N33.5billion pans refund including N109billion bailout fund and released sum of N3.26billion with interest rate to the Local Government Councils in the state, while the sum of N3.5billion was spent on the payment of salaries, and others.
Insisting that N500million was released for the payment of pensions out of the N2billion outstanding on the alleged direction that the Paris refund be used for the payment of salaries by various states’ government by the President, Mohammadu Buhari, the Commissioner said: “the President cannot direct how Delta State will spend her money, it is totally not true and out of place, I’m sure that was not the president’s direction” disclosing that part of the Paris refund was spent on projects and payment of salaries including the release of N2billion Local Government Councils to off-set part of its outstanding bills.
Mr. Edevbie explained, Delta State Government in line with its electioneering promises, spent 58% of the Paris refund in addressing issues relating to salaries, and others, adding that the state government inherited N11.5b unpaid pensions, and N3.6billion, leaving outstanding debt of N8.2billion.
Earlier, the State Commissioner for Economic Planning, Dr. Kingsley Emu had told journalists that the sum of N298 billion proposal for 2018 was adequate enough to take care of all that would be needed to move the state forward, and assured Deltans of hopes in providing the dividends of democracy by the Okowa led administration and blamed the financial setback of the state on the Niger-Delta crisis.
“I must say there are hopes of N298billion budget proposals in 2016, it is unfortunate that in the recent times, the state was facing paucity of funds as a result of the Niger Delta crisis in the heat of 2016, we thanked God that the ugly situation is over, and the state will continue to break the air of freedom” Dr. Emu added.
He noted that Okowa led administration had done numerous projects that will continue to speak volumes in the provision of basic infrastructure and disclosed that the “Akabella” consultants handling the staff verification exercise had also done so much to the desire of the state which used to have over 60, 000 workforce to 45, 000.
He said: “we are very sure that Delta State will make it in 2018, now that recessions are over, but it will disagree with those clamouring for restructuring areseveral implications to our resources control” on allegation that the state political appointees earn more the state workers, the finance commissioner in a swift reaction, said: “we have 2, 203 political appointees, 45, 203 workers, with N383million payment every month for appointee, while workers the sum of N6.3billion paid every month on abandoned Okpanam road project, Dr. Emu however expressed the state government commitment towards the provision of basic infrastructures in the state, warning that the contractor handling the project would soon be brought to book no matter how highly placed, adding: Okpanam road project is almost an embarrassment to the state government, we will soon bring the contractor to book and ensure the project is completed”.