Oyo state government has denied the rumours making the rounds that it is planning to access N100billion loan from a certain commercial bank.
The state Commissioner of Finance, Budget and Planning, Mr. Abimbola Adekambi made the disclosure during a ministerial press briefing held at the Film Theatre of the Ministry of Information, Ibadan.
Adekambi who expressed shock at the rumour noted that it is imperative for the government to correct the wrong impression in order to save the people from being misled by elements with ‘vested’ interests in the financial affairs of the Ajimobi-led administration.
According to the commissioner, apart from the fact that the federal government had embargo state governments from borrowing, Oyo state at the moment could never be allowed access to such a huge amount of money because of the conditionalities that surrounds the business of borrowing.
Some of the conditions, Adekambi said, that determines how much a state can access as loan may include: the state level of internally generated revenue, guarantees from the debt management office and ministry of finance as well as the mechanism on how to repay the debt, all of which will not guarantee the state securing such huge amount at the moment.
He stressed that, the state has not thought about the idea of borrowing N100billion from any bank, let alone pursuing it.
Speaking on the recently received second tranche of the N7.9bn Paris Club Refund, the commissioner assures that beyond the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari to all state governments to use at least 50 percent of the fund on paying outstanding workers salaries and emoluments, the Oyo state government will commit no less than 60 percent of the entire fund for salaries, salary related matters including wages and pensions.
He added that, this is in addition to the governments commitment to use all funds accruing to the state from the federation accounts for the same purpose.
While debunking claims that the states debt profile is to the tune of N115billion, the commissioner explained that about 80 percent of the figure is made up of salaries, gratuities, pensions and wages owed workers and pensioners in the state, before Governor Ajimobi came on board.
He said that the remaining 20 percent is however composed of financial support from the federal government including budget support and infrastructural loan.
He said: “the Abiola Ajimobi’s administration is very committed to the welfare of the entire people of the state, hence, its decision to deplore 60% of the first disbursement of the first tranche of Paris Club Refund for workers welfare which is more than the 50% suggested by President Muhammad Buhari.
“We will all recall that President Buhari has told state governments to use at least 50% of the refund for workers’ wages, salaries and allowances. We are doing more than the 50% in Oyo State.
“When we collected the first tranche of N7.2bn, we used 60 % for workers’ salaries and wages. We also collected a part two of the inflow of the sum of N5.003bn and committed 100% to salaries and salary related payments of workers in the state.
“We have paid two months salaries three times consecutively and the governor has not relented in his efforts to clear all the outstanding wages. We will all remember that Oyo State was initially excluded from the refund, but the governor’s tenacity and strong will ensured that we also got our share.
“ It amazes me when people throw figures in the air without proper explanation or understanding. It is very disappointing when people who claim to be knowledgeable bandy figures for mischief with malicious intent for cheap political gain. Our books are available for all to see and the leadership of the workers’ unions meet with us regularly. We devote 100% of our federal allocations to workers’ salaries and salary related and we did not borrow all the N115bn debt.
“About 80% of it is an accumulation of outstanding salaries, pensions, gratuities including those from previous administrations. We will do all within our capacity to always set the record straight and put things in proper perspective with a view to enlightening the public.”
He added that the administration tagged the 2017 budget, “Budget of Self-Reliance” because it hopes to generate funds internally to run. He said that the government is already exploring the sales of lands across the states, widening its tax net as well as blocking leakages as a result of rot in the system, to generate more fund for the government to deliver its promises to the people.
Speaking earlier, his counterpart at the ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Toye Arulogun lamented that as at today, the state government “uses 100 percent of its allocation to pay less than two percent of the population”, but that the government is using its financial mechanism to generate more funds to ensure that other obligations are met to the entire populace