The Federal Government says part of its debt recovery effort is to block loopholes and activate strategies geared towards collecting debts owned by individuals and corporate organisations.
These were part of the speech delivered by Director, Special Projects of the Ministry of Finance, Aisha Omar, on Tuesday, at a sensitisation workshop on debt recovery organised by the Lighthouse Project, in Gombe, for the North-East zone.
Omar, who was represented by Deputy Director, Bridget Molokwu, said the key policy objectives of Bola Tinubu’s administration are to increase revenue from non-oil sectors, and block loopholes.
She said, “An important part of our policies and strategies is to leverage big data technology to help block revenue loopholes, identify new revenue opportunities, optimise existing revenue streams especially non-oil revenue as well as improve fiscal transparency.
“In actualising this goal, the Federal Ministry of Finance initiated “Project Lighthouse”, which has enabled the aggregation of relevant economic and financial information from multiple agencies who hitherto did not share data. Generally, revenue loopholes have been aided by poor information sharing and enforcement. Data from Project Lighthouse revealed that many companies and individuals who owe government agencies have refused to honour their obligations were still being paid especially through the government platforms such as GIFMIS and Treasury Single Account due to lack of visibility over these transactions.”
Omar highlighted various efforts of the ministry, in a bid to address major revenue loopholes, “the issuance of a Ministerial directive on 26th September 2019 to all MDAs, with a view to aggregate all Government debt across the Public Finance Space as well as to have a single window on the credit profile of government and the Federal Executive Council regulatory approval on Wednesday 31st March 2021, to extend the functionalities of Debt Recovery Capability of Lighthouse to enable the Federal Ministry of Finance fully automate the debt recovery process and make settlements of debts as seamless as possible,” she added.
The Director, Special Projects disclosed that based on debt analytics and reporting applications aggregated over N5.2 trillion, adding “the ministry 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 ten (10) Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs). The debt aggregation effort is still ongoing. Currently, approximately 57 Billion has been recovered so far from this amount and due to concerted efforts by stakeholders and the Federal Government.”
Also speaking, Senior Management Consultant Abraham Atteh, said the debt of the government had remained public, stressing that both individuals and corporate organisations owned the government and its agencies
“The emphasis over the years has been that the government is owing, but nobody is putting emphasis on who is owing the government. The debt recovery initiative is to help block significant revenue loopholes in government by ensuring that corporate entities doing business with government but failed to fulfil the transaction who have been paid on government platform we are trying to stop that loophole,” Atteh said.