Paris Club: Workers’ December Salaries Threatened As FG, States In Court

Hope for state workers to receive payment of their December salaries as well as a backlog of arrears is on the brink of being dashed as the federal government and 36 state governors have been dragged to court by the consultant that handled the disbursement of the Paris Club Refund.

A source highly placed in the Presidency told our correspondent that the said consultant had taken the duo to court for non-payment of the 5 per cent consultancy fees due to him.

According to the source, the suit may stall further withdrawals from the account; an account which most state governors had banked on to pay workers’ salary before the Christmas celebration.

The source said that the case had been filed at the Federal High Court Abuja.

The person explained that before this new court case, efforts were in top gear to release the balance of the Paris Club refunds to states to pay workers salaries all over the country before Christmas.

“The payment of the Paris Club refunds were at the final stages to be paid to enable the workers to enjoy the Christmas and New Year festive seasons,” the person said.

In a related development, the earlier scheduled Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting was put off till Saturday (today) because stakeholders had not received the component statement from NNPC.
One of the state Commissioners of Finance, who pleaded anonymity, told NAN that for the second time, the NNPC is late in remitting funds into the Federation Account.

“NNPC is the major cause of all these things, they have not brought in money just like last month.

“Last month, the state governors insisted that they (NNPC) must bring in money before they later brought out N30billion from Excess Crude Account (ECA) before the last FAAC could hold.

”Again this month, the CBN and Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) said there was no component statement available from NNPC, they have not received a component statement from NNPC.

”This indicates that NNPC had not paid money into the Federation Account. Without that money, we have to wait until tomorrow for FAAC meeting to hold.

“If the component statement is sent from NNPC it will take about six hours before the stakeholders can go through it, ” the commissioner said.

President Muhammadu Buhari last month had urged all state governors to utilise the balance of 50 per cent Paris Club refund to settle unpaid salaries owed workers before Christmas.

To remove any hitches he had directed the CBN, Ministry of Finance, and the Budget Office of the Federation to work out how the outstanding fund would be paid before 2017 ends.

The payment began in December 2016, with the release of about N522.74 billion to all 36 states in the first tranche of the Paris Club refund.

The federal government later in July 2017, released the sum of N243.8 billion as the second tranche in the repayment of Paris club refund.

The funds were released following protests by states against over deductions for external debt service between 1995 and 2002.

Meanwhile, TheNews had reported that the Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered that seven accounts linked to the Nigerian Governors’ Forum be frozen.

The accounts the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission alleged were used by the forum to launder funds to the tune of N10billion from proceeds of the Paris Club Refund.

In his ruling on Wednesday, November 29, Justice Gabriel Kolawole said the freezing of the seven accounts would last for 45 days.

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