PARIS CLUB REFUND | FG to disburse N500bn this week to states

The disbursement of the N500bn London-Paris Club loan refund to states by the Federal Ministry of Finance is to commence next week,  investigations have revealed.

Top government officials confided in our correspondent that the Minister of Finance,  Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, would meet anytime soon over the modalities for the disbursement of the funds.

The official said, “We have received the President’s directive which was issued last week and we have already started working on the release of the funds but of course you know there are processes to be followed which is what we are doing now.

“The minister will have to meet with the CBN governor to discuss the modalities for the release of the funds to the respective states and that will be done anytime from now.

“It is after that meeting that a payment mandate will be issued for the monies to be credited to the respective accounts of the state.

“All these processes usually take between two and five working days depending on the circumstances. So by this week,  the states will start getting the money barring any last minute change in plans.”

It was gathered that the meeting between the governor and the finance minister was imperative in order to review the states that have met the criteria for the disbursement of the funds.

One of the criteria is that a minimum of about 50 per cent of the funds would be devoted to the payment of salaries and pension, in line with government’s plan to stimulate consumer demand.

It was also learnt that the funds would be credited to an auditable account from which payments to individual creditors would be made and that such payments would be made to Bank Verification Number-linked accounts that could be verifiable.

The Director of Information in the Federal Ministry of Finance, Mr. Salisu Dambatta, could not be reached for comments as text messages and calls sent to him were not responded to.

He, however, sent a text message that he was in a meeting when the calls became persistent.

A text message sent to him over the issue had yet to be responded to as of 4.30pm.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Thursday directed that the amount be released by the finance minister to the states to enable them to meet pressing financial obligations such as the payment of salaries and pension arrears.

He said the presidential order should be carried out “appropriately and with dispatch.”

Buhari, who had earlier released the first tranche of N388bn to the state governments in December 2016, said the latest release was meant to ease their financial hardship.

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