States yet to meet conditions for second tranche Paris Club refund
Six weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari ordered payment of the second tranche of Paris Club refund to states, the order has not been carried out. Investigations by The Guardian showed that states are yet to fulfill the fresh conditions listed by the Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun. The conditions include a monitoring and evaluation of the deployment of the first tranche by the state governments, to ensure that the refunds were judiciously utilized, particularly for payment of salaries.
Adeosun also raised the suspicion that some states must have been overpaid in the first trance settlement, hence the need for a reconciliation of their balances before further reimbursement.
The conditions set by the Finance Minister followed agitation by governors for the release of the second batch payment. When President Buhari resumed work on March 13, after his medical vacation, he was passionate about the need for states to fulfill their obligations to teachers and other category of workers. He ordered the release of the second tranche of about N6000b.
Though the ministry was not forthcoming with information on the status of the monitoring, evaluation and reconciliation of states’ account. Officials who spoke to The Guardian on condition of anonymity, said most states have failed the compliance test.
The Minister incidentally is attending the 2017 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) World Bank as Nigeria’s head of delegation. However, the Director of Information in the Ministry. Alhaji Salisu Na’Inna Dambatta told The Guardian that nothing has changed since the last time the conditions were set.
The Accountant General of the Federation. Alhaji Ahmed Idris confirmed the situation to The Guardian at the weekend when he said the Finance Ministry, which was handling the exercise, has not sent any instruction to his Office to pay any state.
Ahmed said: “The Finance Ministry is the one anchoring the programme. If any instruction has been sent to my office for payment, I am not aware yet because it has not been brought to my attention.”
A further check at the Office of the Director Funds in the Office of the Accountant General Office. Mr. Alex Adeyimi also indicated that there was no payment instruction from the Federal Ministry of Finance.
Director General of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), Ashishana Bayo Okauru, said he was not aware the governors were facing any challenge in accessing the funds. Pressed further, Okauru said: “There is a process and they are on track. I’m not aware of conditions set that the governors have not met.”
He referred any enquiry on the matter to the Federal Ministry of Finance adding, “there are requirements towards meeting those conditions, including the availability of funds. I think they are working on it.”
Okauru explained that the states met the conditions set for releasing the first tranche of payments, which included payment of salaries and pensions. He expressed optimism that the fresh conditions, which involves some processes, will be met by the states, to enable them draw on the second tranche.