MDA’s debt: FG approves payment of N26bn to Discos

Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola

The payment of N25.994bn owed by its Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) to electricity distribution companies (Discos) has been approved by the Federal Government (FG).

The government also resolved to investigate the firm that was said to have exported poor quality yams from Nigeria to the United States.

These were the highlights of the decisions reached at a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, told State House correspondents that since the inception of the present administration, claims of debts by the government to the power firms had been a matter of concern, especially in the light of liquidity issues.

Fashola said the government had earlier agreed that it would only pay verified sums after proper verification was done.

He said, “We have concluded the verification and we now ask council to approve the verified sum of N25.994bn owed by the MDAs of the Federal Government to be paid to the Discos out of the claims of N67.41bn.

“So, there is a differential of about N41bn. That differential arises first because some of the claims do not belong to the Federal Government. Some are owed by state and local governments. Also, some belong to public international organisations and were classified as government debts.”

Fashola added, “So, there is more verification going on and undertaken at states and local governments, which we have discovered at the National Council on Power about a week ago. This is important so that the government can demonstrate its support for the private sector by paying its own debts so that the sector can do what it does well.

“Government has also approved that this amount that has been quantified be set off against the amount owed by the Discos to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader, a 100 per cent Federal Government-owned subsidiary company. They also owe government for their unremitted collections for energy they have taken and have not remitted. They are owing government about N500bn.”

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, also said the government had decided to investigate a company that exported a consignment of yams found to be of poor quality to the US.

He said, “One of the developments we were mandated to brief you on is about the consignment of yams, which was exported from here to the United States, and which according to the reports we have today, was found to be of poor quality.

“The ministry will investigate, because the ministry is not an exporter. The exporters are private people. We will investigate the company that exported it and ask our quarantine department to check and find out why such a consignment left here.”

Ogbeh also said the government was concerned about the high cost of rice, which he described as the most consumed staple in Nigeria.

He stated that rice growers and millers had been meeting in the last two days and had agreed to the plans that the government had been pursuing to arrive at a certain price.

“That means that in the next one month, the price of rice will become reasonable and the cost of rice would have reduced substantially,” the minister added.

…commences fresh action on ease of doing business

The Federal Government on Tuesday commenced a fresh 60-day national action plan as part of efforts to further improve the ease of doing business in the country.

According to a statement on Wednesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, the plan being implemented by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council is part of the present administration’s medium-term Economic Growth and Recovery Plan to build a globally competitive economy.

Akande said the new action plan, which would run from October 3 to December 1, 2017, was expected to further reduce the challenges faced by the SMEs when getting credit, paying taxes, or moving goods across the country, among others, by removing critical bottlenecks and bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria.

The PEBEC, which is chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, had on September 26 approved a second 60-day National Action Plan to drive reforms aimed at making Nigeria a progressively easier place to do business.

The plan marks the beginning of another reform cycle 2017/2018, which aims to deepen the ease of doing business reforms implemented across the various government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies in the last 12 months.

According to the statement, the plan will increase productivity through industrialisation, enhance exports and foreign exchange earnings, while creating jobs and reducing poverty.

Akande recalled that a previous 60-day National Action Plan on Ease of Doing Business was approved on February 21, 2017.

The plan, he explained, contained initiatives and actions implemented by responsible MDAs, the National Assembly, governments of Lagos and Kano states, as well as some private sector stakeholders.

The statement read, “Some of the reforms to be implemented to ease the process of starting a business include eliminating the manual registration process at the Corporate Affairs Commission in 10 additional states, increase access to credit for SMEs by registering at least 300 microfinance banks on the collateral registry, and enforce the elimination of illegal roadblocks on major trading routes across the country.

“The MDAs have been charged by the council to treat the ease of doing business initiatives with a sense of urgency and deliver impactful results by implementing the Executive Order 001 on transparency and efficiency.”

It added, “The Executive Order E01, which was signed Prof. Osinbajo on 18th of May, 2017, ensures that citizens have complete clarity on all government requirements and processes, better cooperation and improved information sharing among the MDAs, as well as requiring proper communication of approval or rejection of applications to Nigerians within the stipulated timeframe.

“The reforms will also improve the country’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index 2019.  Recently, Nigeria rose two ranks up from its previous 127th to 125th position in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index for 2017-2018. The country moved up marginally by one step from 170 to 169 in the 2017 World Bank Doing Business Report.”


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