By Ikeugonna Eleke
The Anambra State Government has denied receiving the refund of N43 billion owed it by the Federal Government for federal projects executed by it in the state.
The state government was apparently reacting to media reports in which some politicians commended the federal government over the refund.
The Anambra State Commissioner for Finance, Mr Ifeatu Onejeme, who spoke on behalf of government, said the true position was that the federal government had approved the payment of part of the monies to the state. 'What has just happened is that the process has just begun. We are still far from receiving the funds,' he said. He said the Senate had merely approved a borrowing plan by the Federal Ministry of Finance, under which refunds would be facilitated.
'The approved borrowing plan is a long way to actual receipt of the cash by the state. What will now happen is that the Debt Management Office (DMO), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Ministry of Finance, will now work out details of the borrowing plan of the N37 billion approved, in order to determine the source of funding of the plan. 'The plan may also involve the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), if the instruments to be used will involve them,' he stated.
Mr Onejeme explained that it was the suggestion of Anambra that since there was no immediate cash for liquidation of the debt, the FG could pay through the floating of bonds or promissory notes. 'With payments through bonds or promissory notes, the state has the option of waiting for maturity of instrument and goes through a group of commercial banks to choose the option of discounting the debt for cash.
'As it stands now, the receipt of the cash will depend on how fast the DMO, the CBN, the Finance Ministry and SEC work hard at fast-tracking the process,' Onejeme said.
He added that it was premature to talk about cash refunds to Anambra, while advising those praising the Federal Government for the purported refunds to desist from deceiving the people of the state that the debt had been paid.
'There is still a long way to go,' he said.
The debt, which is an accumulation from Governors Chris Ngige, Peter Obi, and Willie Obiano, was actually N47 billion, but a series of reconciliations with the Federal Ministry of Works and Finance brought it down to N43billion.