THE Federal Government says it has uncovered monumental debts approximating N6 trillion naira owed 11 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) by individuals and corporate bodies.
The discovery was made through the consolidation efforts of the Debt Analytics & Reporting Application of the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
Speaking at a one-day sensitisation programme for South-South geo-political zone on the Federal Government’s debt recovery drive in Asaba, Delta State, the Director of Special Projects, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Victor Omata, said the debts were in the form of liabilities to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
The debt recovery drive named ‘Project Lighthouse Programme’ is aimed at recovering Federal Government debts.
Project Lighthouse Programme is one of the portfolio projects under the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative (SRGI) of the Federal Government?
Omata noted that the debts include companies that failed to deliver on projects for which payment had been effected, and unpaid credit facilities granted to corporate entities and individuals by the Bank of Industry (BOI) and Bank of Agriculture (BOA).
Others include unpaid judgment debt in favour of the government, and debts owed to Pension Transition Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) by insurance companies, among others.
Represented by the Deputy Director in the Special Projects Department of the Ministry, Bridget Molokwu, Omata said despite the huge outstanding debts, data gathered by the government’s Project Lighthouse Programme revealed individuals and corporate bodies owing the MDAs who refused to honour their obligations are still being paid.
Stressing that the ministry, through its Debt Analytics & Reporting Application discovered N6 trillion debt from 11 MDAs, Omata, further disclosed that the concerned individuals and corporate bodies are still being paid through platforms such as Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) and Treasury Single Account (TSA) due to lack of visibility over such transaction.
He reiterated that the Project Lighthouse (Phase 2) is aimed at the recovery of debt owed to the Federal Government by individuals and companies through the instrumentality.
Omata said that the debts was revealed through a data aggregated from over 5,000 + debtors across ten (10) MDAs.
According to Omata, a statement by Stephen Kilebi, the Director of Press of the Ministry, disclosed that the “debt aggregation effort is still ongoing”.
While soliciting participants’ support and commitment to change the revenue narrative, Omata stressed the need to adopt the power Big Data Analytics, Data Science and related technologies.
The Director of Special Projects stressed the need for participants’ cooperation to provide quality and relevant information (debt-related data).
Emphasising that Project Lighthouse Programme comes with its recovery process, Omata expressed hopes that the debt recovery drive will drastically minimise Nigeria’s indebtedness.
He, as well, stated that the data will track the day-to-day revenue generation, block revenue leakages and get the true profile of debt recovery portfolio.
Noting that many organisations will benefit from the intelligence generated from the programme, he explained that Project Lighthouse Programme is designed to demystify the problem of debt recovery through the adoption of the potencies of big data analytics technology.
The system is said to have the ability to collect, integrate and analyse data from revenue generating agencies to create insightful information for improved decision making on debt recovery.
Explaining that revenue loopholes is aided by poor information sharing and enforcement, he said important economic and financial information of agencies which did not share data had been aggregated.
According to Omata, the importance of the project was to leverage on big data technology to help in blocking revenue loopholes, identifying new revenue opportunities, optimising existing revenue streams especially the non-oil revenue as well as improving fiscal transparency.
With a view to address significant revenue loopholes and debts across the public finance space, Omata added that the ministry had issued a directive on September 26, 2019, to all MDAs and a single window on the credit profile of the Federal Government and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for regulatory approval on March 31, 2021.
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