Delta State Government on Monday reiterated that the N100 billion it sought approval from the State Assembly was not a loan but a discounting facility from a commercial bank.
The State Commissioner for Finance, Fidelis Tilije, stated this at a news conference in Asaba while reacting to claims that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s led administration had taken a fresh N120 billion loan to increase the debt profile of the state.
Mr Tilije said the state government, a few days ago, sought the approval of the House of Assembly to make the needed amendment which had to do with the change of the lead bank (agent) handling the bridging finance (discounting facility) of N100 billion it earlier sought for.
He also explained that the recently approved N20 billion loan was the state investment in a floating gas project to be sited in Warri, which would be paid from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) deduction before the exit of this administration.
Mr Tilije said the state was solvent, adding that the Okowa administration was putting modalities in place to ensure that all completed and most ongoing projects are paid for to ensure that the next administration has enough funds to run.
He recalled that the state government had N240 billion refunds from the federating account out of which it had initially proposed to discount N150 billion as bridging finance.
According to him, the state has so far received a total of N19.6 billion of the N240 billion refunds from FAAC.
“You will recall that we had earlier told you the state government has decided to discount N100 billion instead of the initial N150 billion and we had outlined the number of projects to be financed with the funds.
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“So far, we have accessed a total of N80 billion as bridging finance, and with that, lots of payments have been made to contractors and fully paid for those projects listed to be financed with the funds.
“We said that we are going to pay N10 billion to defray pension arrears in the state and this we have done by giving N5 billion to Local Governments and N5 billion to address state pension arrears,” he said.
According to him, on the recent N100 billion bridging facility only the terms and conditions of the facility changed and we have accessed a total of N80 billion because we changed the lead agent.
“We are still trying to access the additional N20 billion but we are already prosecuting the projects that we have itemised when we approached the House of Assembly for the funds.
“We are doing everything humanly possible to make funds available for the next government and that is why we have decided to discount only N100 billion out of the N240 billion expected from FAAC,” Mr Tilije said.
On state investment in the gas project, Mr Tilije said there was no doubt the project would bring back the past activities in Warri as a commercial hub and improve the state internally generated revenue and boost job creation.
On his part, the state Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu, said the Okowa-led administration has kept to its promise to deliver dividends of democracy to the people.
He said that despite the electioneering period, the promise to keep working till the last day in office was on course.
He, however, berated the opposition party for fueling misconceptions, adding that the Okowa administration was committed to transparency and accountability.
“What we are doing is not different from what you know and in line with our desire to remain transparent and accountable in all our doings.
“All the projects that we listed when we approached the House of Assembly for the bridging finance are today being delivered.
“And there are other ongoing projects in addition to the six projects commissioned by Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate recently in the state,” he said.
On the gas project, Mr Aniagwu said the N20 billion was the government equity share that would ensure the establishment and returns on investment and job creation.
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