By Etuka Sunday
Federal Government yesterday refused to give cogent reasons why it sent Paris Club Refund to only Osun State against the usual way of sending to the 36 states of the federation.
Recall, the Federal Government was reported to have secretly released the sum of N16.67 billion as Paris Club Refund to Osun State, a development that is currently raising dust in the country.
Instead of clarifying on the action of government, the Ministry of Finance sent out a press release that has nothing to do with the allegation.
A source at the ministry told our correspondent that the staff were under pressure to issue a statement, that was why the information was sent out.
According to the statement issued by the Director, Information, Ministry of Finance, Hassan Dodo, the Ministry said, it had provided some clarifications on the Paris Club Refund approved for the 36 States of the Federation.
It said the issue of Paris Club loan over-deduction had been a long standing dispute between the Federal Government and the State Governments which dated back to the period of 1995 to 2002.
In response to the dispute, President Muhammadu Buhari directed that the claims of over-deduction should be formally and individually reconciled by the Debt Management Office (DMO). This reconciliation commenced in November 2016.
As an interim measure to alleviate the financial challenges of the States during the 2016 recession, the President had approved that fifty percent (50%) of the amounts claimed by States be paid to enable the States clear salary and pension arrears.
This was released between 1stDecember, 2016 and 29thSeptember, 2017. This refund was part of the Government’s fiscal stimulus to ensure the financial health of Sub-National Governments.
The statement said, “the DMO led the reconciliation process under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Finance.
”The final approval of US$2.689 billion is subject to the following conditions:
Salary and staff related arrears must be paid as a priority;
Commitment to the commencement of the repayment of Budget Support Loans granted in 2016, to be made by all States; Clearing of amounts due to the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative; Commitment to clear matching grants from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) where some States have available funds which could be used to improve primary education and learning outcomes.
”The payment of the approved amount is to be made in phased tranches to the States”, the statement said.