- Reps to probe utilisation of bailout funds to states
Not satisfied with the level of disbursement and utilization of bailout funds to state governments by the federal government, members of the House of Representatives yesterday resolved to probe how these funds were utilized.
They equally resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the terms and conditions for the disbursement and utilization of the funds; the level of compliance and ascertain the necessity for further disbursement as has been muted by the federal government.
The resolution was sequel to a motion of matter of urgent national importance sponsored by Hon. Steve Karimi (PDP, Kogi).
Leading the debate on the floor of the House, Karimi observed that since 2015, federal government gave financial aid to 27 states to the tune of N689.5 billion for their inability to pay salaries while additional N20bn was disbursed to Kogi state.
The lawmaker revealed that the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC indicted several states for diversion of the fund into interest yielding accounts, while their employers continue to wallow in hunger, poverty and penury.
He lamented that while some states solely rely on the bailout funds to pay salaries, other states like Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Borno and Cross River states had stayed away from the bailout funds.
In his submission, Hon. Nnanna Igbokwe quoted Section 164 of 1999 Constitution, which empowers the parliament to appropriate every fund from the federation account or any other source to the states.
He, therefore, insisted that the House should investigate the conditions under which the loan was disbursed and the repayment conditions.
The House Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila argued that the provisions of the constitution should not distract the House from carrying out a duty that would ultimately benefit the people.
According to him, “We should not shy away from investigating the matter simply because we were not involved in the appropriation.
“When states pay salaries, they stimulate the economy, when they don’t pay salaries, they de-stimulate the economy. When people go on strike, there is no economic activities.
“Since there are allegations from ICPC, we cannot sit down here and workers are owed up to seven months’ salary. We should set up an ad-hoc committee to know what happened with the bailout fund”.
Before his ruling, the Speaker, Hon Yakubu Dogara said the House should go beyond the methodology of the fund disbursement in unravelling the authority with which the Central Bank effected the payment as well as the extent to which it complied with the provisions of the constitution.
Kwara Assembly approves Gov Ahmed’s request to access FG’s bailout
Meanwhile, leadership of the Kwara state House of Assembly has approved the state government’s request to access the Federal Government Budget Support Facility, BSF,loan.
The approval, which was given unanimous by the House members after the Speaker; Dr. Ali Ahmad, read the governor’s message on the request, during an emergency plenary allowed governor Ahmed to access not more than N1.3 billion whenever there was shortfall in the state monthly allocation.
The monthly loan which was aimed at enabling state government to perform its obligations if there is a sudden drop in monthly allocation from the Federal Government must be approved by state assemblies.
Governor Ahmed had in his message to the house said the Federal Ministry of Finance had identified and negotiated with potential lenders and had formally convened an offer of a total sum of N14.16 billion to support the Kwara State Government.
The loan according to the Governor’s message will be made available in three tranches.
The Speaker, Dr Ali Ahmad said through the BSF, the Federal Government would make N90 billion available for all the 36 states to bridge the lack of funds to support the budget.
He said the state government would be able to access N1.3 billion wherever the state allocation drops less than expected maintaining that the loan was to the effect of the financial challenges being experienced in the state adding that payment of workers’ salaries must be the priority of the government whenever the fund is accessed.
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