Osun is expected to top the list of salary-owing states that have been barred by the Federal Government from accessing the latest Paris Club fund in Nigeria.
Osun is number one among the states owing its civil servants months of arrears and salaries, others include Nasarawa, Kogi, Benue, Ekiti, Bayelsa, Taraba, and a few others.
One of the cardinal perquisites for accessing the latest tranche of Paris Club fund is that states owing salaries must first clear their backlogs.
FG specifically said states must clear backlog of salaries and other related staff arrears before they would be able to access the remaining 2.69 billion dollar Paris Club Refund.
That amount is 977,034,900,000.00 Nigerian Naira using September 11 exchange rate.
According to the Director of Information, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mr Hassan Dodo, Tuesday, government would commence phased payments of the refund to the states once the condition and several others were met.
“The DMO led the reconciliation process under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Finance. The final approval of 2.69 billion dollars is subject to some conditions.
“Salary and staff related arrears must be paid as a priority. Also commitment to the commencement of the repayment of Budget Support Loans granted in 2016 must be made by all States.
“Furthermore, they must clear amounts due to the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative and make commitment to clear matching grants from UBEC.
“This is in cases where some states have available funds which could be used to improve primary education and learning outcomes,” Dodo said in a statement quoted by the News Agency of Nigeria.
Issue of Paris Club in Nigeria
Politicians particularly state governors have in the past obtained Paris Club Fund to undertake projects for which it was not meant.
At times, they misappropriated the fund, owe civil servants months of salaries while political office holders receive buoyant pay.
It will be recalled that the issue of Paris Club loan over-deduction had been a long standing dispute between the Federal Government and the state governments, dating back to 1995.
In response to the dispute, President Muhammadu Buhari directed that the claims of over-deduction should be formally and individually reconciled by the Debt Management Office (DMO).
This reconciliation commenced in November 2016, unfortunately most of the States that received the last Paris Club fund used the fund for something else, thereby building edifice of debt.