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More States Benefit From Bailout Package As NEC Meets

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BEVERLY HILLS, September 17, (THEWILL) – More States of the federation have started benefiting from the Special Intervention Fund aspect of the presidential relief package earlier approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

This was disclosed Thursday at the National Economic Council, NEC, meeting held at the State House, Abuja and presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

While briefing the Council, the Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said 18 states had been able to draw from the Fund, as at Thursday, while a number of other states were being processed for the soft loan facility.

THEWILL recalls that the bailout is part of President Buhari’s relief package designed to help states pay backlog of salaries and also ease their financial challenges caused by the drop in federal allocation.

In a similar vein, the Director-General of the Debt Management Office, DMO, Mr. Abraham Nwankwo, also informed the NEC that the second phase of the debt restructuring offered to the states is now in effect with 13 new states now being considered, with 12 banks involved.

This is in addition to 11 states whose debts were restructured last month, according to Nwankwo who also told the Council 23 states are now involved in the restructuring. While a total of over N322 billion of states loans were restructured last month, about N252 billion have been restructured this month.

It would be recalled that the presidential relief package has three core elements. These are: The sharing of about $2.1bn in fresh allocation between the states and the federal government. The money was sourced from recent LNG proceeds to the federation account, and its release okayed by the president leading to the sharing of federal allocation twice for month of June.

* A Central Bank-packaged special intervention fund that will offer financing to the states, to the range of about ranging around from N300bn. This is a soft loan available to states to access for the purposes of paying backlog of salaries.

*A debt relief programme designed by the Debt Management Office, DMO, which is now helping the states restructure their commercial loans put at over N660bn, and extend the life span of such loans while reducing their debt-servicing expenditures.

NEC also received an ongoing report from its Ad-Hoc Committee of five governors on the management of the Excess Crude Account and related Federation Account issues. The Committee briefed the Council that it has observed a lack of transparency and accountability in the operation of the Federation Account, adding that there were no checks and balances in the running of the ECA in the recent past.

The five governors on the Ad-Hoc Committee are the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwambo; Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai; (who presented the report to Council ); Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Emmanuel Udom and Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.

The Council also received a report on the issue of refund requested by states which repaired federal roads under the past administration. A briefing by both the Federal Ministry of Works and the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation disclosed that 13 states have fully complied with the reimbursement requirements, 8 states partially complied and 21 states with no compliance with federal reimbursement requirements.

A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant for Media & Publicity to the Vice President, Laolu Akande, said the Buhari administration will be exploring options to address the problem.

The statement said that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture also briefed the Council on its policy direction so far as it noted that the Council which meets monthly was attended by state governors and several top officials from the federal and state governments.