Use $2.69bn Paris refund for salaries, others

Gulloma, Abuja and Lateef Dada, Osogbo As a condition for accessing the balance of $2.69 billion Paris Club loan refund, the federal government has said state governors should undertake to use the fund for the settlement of workers’ salary and staff- related arrears.
Also, the states should commit to the commencement of the repayment of budget support loans granted by the federal government in 2016, and commitment to clear all amounts due to the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI).
Similarly, the states are also asked to show commitment to clear matching grants from the Universal Basic Education Commission, as some states have available funds with the commission which could be channelled to improving primary education in their domains.
Federal Ministry of Finance issued the directives in a statement by its Director of Press, Hassan Dodo in Abuja.
Dodo said: “The DMO led the reconciliation process under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Finance.
The final approval of 2.69 billion dollars is subject to some conditions.
“Salary and staff related arrears must be paid as a priority.
Also, commitment to the commencement of the repayment of Budget Support Loans granted in 2016 must be made by all States.
“Furthermore, they must clear amounts due to the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative and make commitment to clear matching grants from UBEC.
“This is in cases where some states have available funds which could be used to improve primary education and learning outcomes.” It will be recalled that the issue of Paris Club loan over-deduction had been a long standing dispute between the federal government and the state governments, dating back to 1995.
In response to the dispute, President Muhammadu Buhari directed that the claims of overdeduction should be formally and individually reconciled by the 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 50 percent of the amounts claimed by states be paid to enable them clear salary and pension arrears.
This approved sum was released to the states between December 1, 2016 and September 29, 2017.
Osun releases N19.8bn Meanwhile, less than two weeks to the governorship election in Osun, the state government has released over N19 billion for the payment of the workers’ salaries and arrears.
A statement by the state Commissioner for Finance, Mr.
Bola Oyebamiji, said the payment would begin immediately.
Oyebamiji in the statement, said the decision was taken at the meeting of the Fund Apportionment Committee, led by the pioneer President, Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Hassan Sumonu, with labour and government representatives in attendance.
The statement further explained that the payment was in line with labour union’s demand and current financial position of the state government, led by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
The governor was said to have directed payment of four months’ salary arrears and 2016 leave bonus to its workers.
“The government of the state of Osun has commenced gradual disbursement of N19, 801, 328, 271.22 as salaries and other entitlements to its workers,” the statement said.
Workers in the state had last week, gone on three days warning strike and gave the government seven-day notice which will expire on Tuesday next week.


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