Thursday, 13 August 2015

#Benue Inherited N131bn Debt from Last Government

The total debt inherited by the present administration in Benue State from the outgone Gabriel Suswam-led administration has been put at over N130.8 billion.

This was made known yesterday at the presentation of the report of the Mike Iordye-led 16-member Transition Committee that was set up by Governor Samuel Ortom at the inception of his administration.

Iordye who briefed Ortom on the findings of his committee, said the team thoroughly scrutinised the books of the last administration before arriving at the figure.

He explained further that his committee also undertook fact-finding tours of various ongoing and completed projects across the state to ascertain the veracity of the claims made by the last administration on the indebtedness of the state.

He said: “The committee also interacted with all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, from June 4 to July 9, 2015 and at the interactive session the heads of the MDAs appeared before us with all the parastatals under their supervision and threw light on issues presented in their handover notes.”

He noted that the committee did not however look at the local government debts “except the arrears of pensions and gratuities that was presented by the Local Government Pensions Board which is over N10billion.”

Receiving the report, Ortom promised that his administration would look into the report with a view to taking necessary action.

Meanwhile, a consultant economist, Dr. Peter Iorver, said Benue is in serious trouble for having in key places in government at the moment individuals who lack even preliminary knowledge of how government works.

He said some members of the present government had since inauguration been consistently accusing Suswam’s government of pilfering, almost to an empty level, the state’s treasury.

He stated that there have been inconsistencies as to the debt profile of the state. He said one day it is N90 billion, the other day N130billion and then N6 billion and so on.

“It is a funny way of adding the total allocation to the state for eight years and subtracting the total amount of salaries paid for same period, adding that the officials forgot that what comes to the states and local governments from the federation account is called “monthly allocation” but “not monthly salaries.”

“After salaries are paid, the councils at their discretion use the remaining funds for other businesses of government. That is why you have recurrent and capital expenditures. It is laughable the kind of information that is been dished out by this new government,” he said.

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