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Wednesday , 18 October 2017

Buhari approves payment of N25.99bn debt to Discos @ FEC meeting

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved the settlement of N25.99 billion debt owed power Distribution Companies (Discos) by the Federal Government.

The Minister of Work, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola briefed State House correspondences at the end of FEC presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to him, the amount, which has been verified was owed by the Federal Government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

He also disclosed that the verification of the amount owed by States and Local governments is still ongoing.

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, told State House correspondents that since the inception of the incumbent administration, claims of debts owed by government to DISCOS have 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 is done.

He said, “We have concluded the verification and we now ask council to approve the verified sum of N25.994bn owed by 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 states and local governments. Also, some belong to public international organisations and were classified as government debts.

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

“Government has also approved that this amount that has been quantified be set off against the amount owed by the DISCOS to Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader, a 100% 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, 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 commodity in Nigeria.

He said rice growers and millers have been meeting in the last two days and have agreed to the plans government has 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 said.

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