Posted by News Express | 2 May 2017 | 1,495 times
The Bayelsa State Government has denied diverting funds earmarked for Local Governments and rather blamed paucity of funds at the third tier of government on the economic recession.
The government said that eight Local Government Areas (LGA) in the state shared N1.3 billion of the first tranche Paris Club refund from the N14.5 billion remitted to the state by the Federal Government.
Dr. Agatha Goma, Commissioner for Local Government Administration in the state who gave the figures at a press briefing on Monday, noted that the councils deployed the funds to clear salary backlogs in the eight LGAs.
She, however, said that the fund was not sufficient to clear the entire backlog as various councils have varying wage bills even as their fund receipts and revenue earnings varied.
Goma reiterated that the funds accruing to the Local Government system were not tampered with as Governor Seriake Dickson had put in place a transparent system of public finance management that ensures that council funds get to them.
“It is important to restate that what the councils in Bayelsa are facing is as a result of the recession which has taken its toll on the revenue accruable to all tiers of government, nobody tampers with council funds in Bayelsa.
“Even though we run a unified Local Government system, the same amount that accrues to the Local Governments is what is remitted to them and they are financially autonomous.
“The Local Government component of both the bailout funds from the Federal Government and the Paris Club refunds was remitted to the eight Local Governments and they were judiciously used,
“In the first tranche of the Paris Club refunds, the local government share was N1.3 billion and details of what each council got will be provided by representatives of the LGA here,” Goma said.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on March 23 approved the disbursement of the second tranche of the Paris Club loan refunds to states that had disbursed the first tranche to local governments.
It was also gathered that accountability of the disbursement of the first tranche was a prerequisite for states to benefit from the second tranche of the disbursement.
This has raised fears that states that diverted the first tranche might be disqualified from benefitting from the second tranche due for disbursement.
Representatives of Bayelsa chapter of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) attended the news conference.
ALGON Secretary and Ogbia Local Government Caretaker Committee Chairman, Mr. Ebiango Egain, said councils shared the N1.3 billion and deployed same to clear outstanding salaries.
Egain commended Governor Dickson, for ensuring that council funds are released to the Local Government as received from the Federal Government.
“Neither the Governor, the Deputy Governor, the Commissioner for Local Government Administration nor the State Government is tampering with our funds.
“Yes, there is control to ensure conformity with State Government development agenda but there is no illegal deduction,” Egain affirmed.
The breakdown of the N1.3 billion shared among the eight councils according to ALGON were Brass Local Government, N158.5 million; Ekeremor Local Government, N182.2 million; Kolokuma/Opokuma, N122.6 million; and Ogbia, N157.9 million. Others are Sagbama N155.4 million; Nembe, N147.9 million; Southern Ijaw, N209.4 million; and Yenagoa, N199.1 million.
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