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Why release of N350bn for 2017 budget implementation may be delayed

Contrary to earlier announcement by the federal government that it will release the first tranche of N350bn for the effective take off of 2017 budget, limited inflow of revenue into the Federation Account and the competing need to complete the refund of Paris Club fund to states who are at dagger-points with the federal government are now serious issues.

It would be recalled that the N522bn that was initially released to states in December last year was just about 25 per cent of what the states are claiming; meaning that states are seriously waiting for about N1.566tn, a release that will be very difficult for the federal government to pay out even though the money had since left Paris to Nigeria.

Business Hilights gathered on Sunday that though the ongoing reconciliation of states’ claims on Paris Club largesse by the Federal Government remains a critical factor, states are concerned on getting their money than boosting the economy with budgetary release of the N350bn.

The main fact behind the observed paucity of funding on the side of the federal government tends to stem from weak revenue inflow to the federation account due to production shutdown caused by pipeline vandalism and low tax receipts.

This gave more reasons why the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun is working round the clock to push up tax compliance by all Nigerians through the setting up of Community Tax Liaison Officers (CTLO) to raise tax awareness among citizens.

Facts scooped from the Federal Ministry of Finance showed that the Federal Government committee, which was set up four months ago to reconcile the outstanding claims, may have completed their work but was put at crossroads by general paucity of funds.

Sources in the ministry fear rising revenue challenge facing the country which may further delay budgetary obligations and states’ Paris Club refund.

It would be recalled that a committee was set up comprising the finance minister, Accountant General of the Federation and the Director-General of the Debt Management Office.

Besides, according to the agreed schedule of reimbursement, which was released by the Federal Ministry of Finance, five states got the highest amount of refund from the Federal Government.

The states are Rivers, N34.92bn; Delta, N27.6bn; Akwa Ibom, N25.98bn; Bayelsa, N24.89bn; and Kano, N21.7bn.

The five states got a total of N135.09bn, representing 26.1 per cent of the entire amount refunded by the Federal Government to all the states.

Lagos, N16.74bn; Katsina, N16.4bn; Kaduna, N15.44bn; Borno, N14.68bn; Jigawa, N14.2bn; Imo, N14.01bn; Niger, N14.42bn; Bauchi, N13.75bn; Sokoto, N12.88bn; and Osun, N12.62bn.

Cross River, N12.15bn; Anambra, N12.24bn; Edo, N12.18bn; Kebbi, N11.95bn; Kogi, N11.05bn; Abia, N11.43bn; Ogun, N11.47bn; Plateau, N11.28bn.

Also, the reimbursement saw Yobe State got N10.82bn; Zamfara, N10.88bn; Ebonyi, N9.01bn; Ekiti, N9.54bn; Enugu, N10.7bn; Gombe, N8.95bn; Nasarawa, N9.1bn; Oyo, N13.31bn; while Kwara got N10.24bn.

Whereas Adamawa, N10.25bn; Benue, N13.7bn; Ondo, N14.01bn; Taraba, N9.32bn; the Federal Capital Territory went home with N1.36bn.

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