FG revenues Fall To N299bn In March

*Defers Loan Repayment Plans for Debtor States

The Federal Government’s revenues fell in March to N299 billion, down from N345.095 billion in February, due to low oil prices, the finance minister said on Thursday.

This is as the government has offered to defer loans repayment for some states indebted to it owing to constraints in meeting their monthly salary payment obligations.

Some of the worst hit states which got the lifeline were mostly those which approached the Federal Government for bail-out funds and other form of financial assistance at the inception of the current administration.

These loan repayment deals were stylishly tied to the funds they usually shared from the federation account on monthly basis.

Government has been making the deductions from their allocations but for the month of April, the affected states would get their allocations in full.

About 19 out of 36 states got the bail-out sums from the Federal Government; they include Kwara, Zamfara, Osun, Niger, Bauchi, Gombe, Abia, Adamawa, Ondo, and Kebbi.

Others include Ekiti, Imo, Ebonyi, Ogun, Plateau, Nassarawa, Sokoto, Edo and Oyo States.

Also funds accruing to the excess crude account stands at N3.2 billion, according to the Minister of Finance.

Most of the states have been going to the Federal Government cap-in-hand to seek financial assistance as a result of the fall in oil price at the international market.

“As Minister of Finance, I presented at the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting a report on the balance of the Excess Crude Account which stands at N3.2 billion, where I also gave an account of the interest that has been saved since the last update.

“We discussed extensively that currently, the federation account is among the lowest that has been seen in recent memory, we are looking at N299 billion this month and that’s because of the very low oil prices that we recorded in February and January, this year.

“If you remember oil prices went as low as 28 and 31 dollars and of course that has led to a very low federation account figure, as a result of which I made an approach to His Excellency, Mr. President at the behest of the State governors that we defer the loan deductions from the federation account,” she said.

But in offering to defer the loans repayment, Adeosun said the affected states were to purge their workforce of ghost workers and furnish the government with biometric data so as to know when to continue the deductions from the federation accounts.

“The aim of this is to ensure we support states through this difficult period, to be able to meet their salary obligations, the government is very committed to stimulating the economy and government recognizes that the ability of states to meet salary obligations is a very important part of getting the economy moving again, to that end the president approved that deferral.

“States have been asked to submit financial data that would allow us to model and predict how much support in terms of loan deferrals, that we might need to give just to get through this period until the economy begins to recover. I want to emphasize, it’s not a bail out, it’s a deferral postponement of deductions, rather than bail out, just to allow states have the cash that they need to meet their salary obligations.

Meanwhile, Nasarawa State governor, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, told State House Correspondents that the NEC approved the re-constitution of the Board of the Niger Delta, Power Holding Company, (NDPHC) to facilitate effective distribution of power across the country.

Government had recently given a projection to generate 10,000 megawatts by 2019, even though power generation recently dropped to a record low of 3,000 as a result of alleged gas pipeline vandalism.

According to Al-Makura, N689.5 billion has been disbursed as salary bail-out to states so far.

He said, “One of the critical issues we discussed during the NEC meeting has to do with the issue of power, in line with the priority this administration places on power and the challenges being faced, the NEC reconstituted the Board of the Niger Delta, Power Holding Company, (NDPHC), which is to facilitate effective distribution across the country.

“There was a unanimous acceptance of the recommendations and reconstitution of the Board to include one Governor from each of the six geo-political zones.

“For the North Central zone, we have Plateau to represent: for the North East zone, we have Adamawa Governor; North West, we have Kebbi State; South East, we have Anambra; South West we have Lagos and South South, we have Edo.

“The committee has since been inaugurated by the Vice President. We also discussed the bail-out matter where the CBN Governor gave an update about those states that have been able to access the bail-out and it is put at about N689.5billion so far disbursed as salary bail-out”.