States are demanding about $6.9billion Paris Club loan deductions from the Federal Government.
The government has raised a verification and reconciliation team on the claims by states to end over deduction of loans which have crippled many states.
It was also learnt that the government has set guidelines for accessing the refund.
The Federal Government may— no thanks to the recession— issue long tenored instruments of between five and 10 years to states with valid claims to refund the money.
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the release of about N522.74 billion in the first tranche to enable states offset outstanding salaries and pensions.
The initial payment was greeted with controversy following the remittance of about N19billion from the N522.74 billion into two accounts of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) as commission to consultants.
According to a document obtained by The Nation, states are demanding US$6, 923,722,131.81 refund from the Federal Government.
The states based their requests on unaccounted deductions on “Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) Report of the Reconciliation of State Governments’ External Debts, Vol. 1 (May 2007)”.
The breakdown is as follows: Abia ($151, 410, 816.39); Adamawa($161, 968, 221.27); Akwa Ibom($344, 122,584.90); Anambra($162, 163, 091.98); Bauchi ($182, 192, 756.59); Bayelsa($329, 744, 322.49); Benue($81, 580, 708.60); Borno($194, 461, 850.74); Cross River ($160, 936, 263.51); Delta ($365, 655, 143.86); Ebonyi($119, 419,427.28); and Edo( $161, 354, 346, .83).Others are Ekiti($126, 432, 758.86); Enugu($142, 034, 156.54); Gombe ($118,486,826.45); Imo($185, 451, 792. 92); Jigawa ($188, 282, 561.77); Kaduna($204, 549, 118.60); Kano( $287, 952, 190.23); Katsina($217, 274, 991.01); Kebbi($158,344,357.37); Kogi($159, 674,903.18); Kwara($135, 646, 207 .33); Lagos($223, 773, 195.58);
The list includes Nasarawa($120, 557, 593.92); Niger($191, 014, 388.20); Ogun($152, 036, 415.75); Ondo ($ 185, 527, 107.67); Osun(4167, 261, 095.11); Oyo(4209, 314, 168.61); Plateau($149, 512, 027.96); Rivers ($462, 593, 183.07); Sokoto($170, 625, 921.77); Taraba(4148, 662,635.52); Yobe($143, 393,460.04); Zamfara($144, 169, 154. 81); and FCT($18, 142, 185).
Some states sought refund from 1982 to 2006, others put their timeline at 1995 to 2006.
In one of their letters to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo through a consultancy firm, the states indicated that the demand for refund began during the tenure of a former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala.
The letter gave some insights into efforts at reconciling debt records which the Buhari administration inherited.
The details are contained in the letter by Mauritz Walton Nigeria Limited, which was engaged by some states for the reconciliation of their loan refunds.
The letter was signed by Dr. Maurice Ibe (Managing Consultant) and Alh. Sani Anani (Associate Consultant) for the firm.
The letter states: “The above named company was appointed as consultants by some state governments to carry out reconciliation and recovery of all over deductions on foreign loans (1995 to 2006).
“Subsequently, the loan records were received and reconciled for all the states under our client list (1982 to 2006). It was discovered that the total deductions from the states’ statutory revenue from June 1995 to March 2006 (period of “first line charge policy”) were completely omitted in the past reconciliation exercises.
“It is important to kindly inform that Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Debt Management Office (DMO) and FAAC Sub-Committee did not include this period.
“Therefore, based on our findings, we submitted a demand notice to the then Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance as established over deduction of our clients (states).
“The purpose of this letter is to seek your kind intervention as the Chairman of Debt Management Office (DMO) to resolve these issues once and for all.”
A Presidency source said: “We need to put on records that President Buhari is embarking on loan refund due to over-deductions over the years. Some states have overpaid what they borrowed. This became rampant during the ‘First Line Charge’ period of 1992 – 2002 when deductions were made from Revenue Allocation Accounts.
“Most of the over deductions in dispute occurred before the establishment of the Debt Management Office (DMO). Also, deductions from First Line Charge has been suspended since 2012.
“Prior to the establishment of DMO, some states were servicing loans that records could not be traced again. The President has decided to clean up the debt management system in a way that some of these states will be off the hook.
“What he has done is to ask states to come up with their claims which would be verified by the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Debt Management Office (DMO), RMAFC, and Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF).
The President is said to have decided to direct the release of some refund (first and second tranches) to states pending reconciliation of debt records to enable them pay outstanding salaries and pensions.
He took the decision after getting the report of a Presidential Committee which looked into all liabilities owed to all States of the Federation by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), The Nation learnt.
Responding to a question, the source added: “A verification/ reconciliation committee is already working on these loans and claims by states.
“The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) has an agreement with the President that any state which gets more refund than it ought to pay back. This is why states ought to use their refund well.”
Another document has also given insights into the findings of the Presidential Committee and the guidelines which states must follow to get their refund.
The document said in part: “The Committee met and after deliberating on the issue of States’ claims for refund of the Federal Government’s over-deductions on their Revenue Allocation Accounts in the period prior to the establishment of the DMO, wishes to communicate the following:
The Federal Government is prepared and willing to revisit the issue of States’ claims of over-deductions from States’ Revenue Accounts during the period of First Line Charge, which had been suspended since 2012.
States with genuine claims should make their submissions directly to the Presidential Committee and not through any Consultant, within the timeline given by the Committee.
iii. Claims by all the States of the Federation would be considered together by the Presidential Committee and no State would be treated separately;
A thorough verification process would be undertaken to sift through the submissions made by the States, with a view to either authenticating or rejecting the claims, based on their veracity or otherwise.
“You may kindly wish to find below, the Guidelines for the consideration of claims by all States:
All submissions should be addressed to the Presidential Committee on the Verification of States’ Claims of Over-Deductions from Revenue Allocation Account in respect of External Debt Service Payments (1992-2002) and submitted to the Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Finance, with a copy to the Director-General, Debt Management Office (DMO);
It is the responsibility of each participating State to establish its case and taking into consideration that the burden of proof rests with the State.
iii. The use of Consultants by any State is not acceptable. States should forward their submissions directly to the Committee.
Each submission by States should be accompanied by the following documents:
Demand Notices from Creditors on a loan-by-loan basis in respect of loans on which claims are based;
Details of all States’ loans
Evidence of Payments to the Creditors (authorised by the Creditors);
Evidence of deductions from the States’ Revenue Allocation;
Category of debts on which claims are being made;
Evidence of amount outstanding on a year-by-year basis (from 1992- 2002);
Where applicable, for every claim, there should be confirmation of the status of the debt by the creditor; and,
Any other relevant information/document.
“The Federal Government would issue long tenored instruments of between 5 to 10 years to States with valid claims of over deduction, as a means of refunding the States.”
Source: The Nation
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