Posted by News Express | 1 May 2016 | 3,024 times
The Benue Government on Saturday said it would use all legal means to recover vehicles allocated to people in the state under the Sure-P Transport Scheme.
Mr David Olofu, the state Commissioner for Finance, told newsmen in Makurdi that many of the beneficiaries, who got the vehicles on hire purchase, were not meeting their commitments to the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the administration of former Gov. Gabriel Suswam had procured over 300 Nissan vehicles for use as taxis and buses under the Sure-P Transport Scheme to empower people in the state.
Olofu said that the beneficiaries were supposed to remit specific amounts from their daily proceeds from the vehicles.
The commissioner said that the government, however, realised only N19 million from the scheme, as 80 per cent of the beneficiaries were not paying for the vehicles.
He said that the government would soon activate the clause that empowered them to recover the vehicles upon failure of payment by beneficiaries.
The commissioner said that the state government currently spends over N800 million monthly on servicing of debts.
He explained that the state debt profile was over N55 billion, including the federal government bailout fund, apart from loans of local governments.
Olofu said that a great percentage of the loans and bonds were collected by previous administrations starting from 1980.
“Servicing of loans and bonds is part of our inherited responsibility as a government. So far, we are servicing six domestic loans, bonds and few foreign loans.
“We are servicing the N13billion bond and N4.9billion bond that the previous administration collected.
“We are also servicing the N10billion UBA loan, N12.5billion state bailout facility, and N10b infrastructural loan.”
“Others include the N5.5billion counterpart funding loan and other foreign loans obtained by the previous administrations.
“As we speak, we are spending over N800 million monthly on servicing of local debt (loans and bonds) in the state, including the N12.5 billion bailout facility recently received by 28 states of the federation.”
He said that despite the harsh economic realities in the state, the government had no option than to fulfil this responsibility to the banks monthly.
Olofu also disclosed that the government was doing everything within the law to vacate the National Industrial Court Garnishee order on its infrastructural account domiciled at Fidelity Bank Plc.
NAN recalls that the court had garnisheed the account following the government’s failure to honour a court ruling.
The ruling was for the payment of N940 million as salaries and terminal benefits of 210 workers of the state-owned Taraku Mills Limited.
Taraku Mills was the only remaining company owned by the state after the sale of Benue Cement but the last administration sold it after failing to pay its workers for four years.
The finance commissioner said that the development had affected ongoing infrastructure projects in the state as the N10 billion infrastructure loan recently received was trapped in the account.
“It is very unfortunate that people just wake up and go to court to have our accounts garnisheed. There are many ways to solve problems; not only through the court.
“As a government, we are not running away from our responsibilities, but with little economic improvement and time, we can pay all of them.
“We are doing everything within the law to ensure that the orders are vacated. We are not denying that we do not have this outstanding, but we have to pay them based on the realities on ground.” (NAN)
•Photo shows Gov. Ortom.
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