FG moves to recover N5.2tr from 10 MDAs

Ten Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are owing the Federal Government N5.2 trillion, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has disclosed.

Making the disclosure yesterday at the launch of the Project Lighthouse Debt Analytics and Reporting Platform, yesterday, in Abuja, the minister hinted that the Federal Government had recovered N53.5 billion from over 5,000 debtor agencies spread over 10 MDAs in the last 12 to 18 months.

Her words: “Sequel to the issuance of the finance circular, the ministry, through the consolidation efforts of the project, has been able to aggregate monumental debts of approximately N5.2 trillion. These debts came to the spotlight from data aggregated from over 5,000+ debtors across 10 MDAs. Working in collaboration with the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF), we have been able to recover the sum of N53.5 billion within the last 12 to 18 months, through the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) as a recovery touch point.”

She added that to consolidate the effort of the project, a debt recovery application had been built to be monitored by the new Debt Recovery Unit.

Ahmed observed that despite the widespread use of technology in a data-centric world, the government had not had a culture of using information to guide the formulation, implementation and impact assessment of its initiatives and policies or even in carrying out key mandates.

While decrying the existing practice, the minister submitted: “This modus operandi presents several challenges. First, our policies are not usually empirically based. Second, we are not able to effectively track the implementation and impact of these policies, initiatives, programmes and mandates. Third, we lack data to help guide the revision or optimisation of these policies.”

She stressed that via the ‘Project Lighthouse,’ which was initiated by the ministry in July 2017, the government had been able to access data from multiple sources to support implementation of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).

According to her, the mined data came from tax records, company ownership and directors of Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), land registries, company directors’ information, as well as National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), non-structured data from online sources, contractor payment records from GIFMIS, Remita, among others.

She maintained that the mined data helped the government to identify and better profiles of individuals and corporate taxpayers.

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