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Overdue debt repayment weak in most states, DMO warns

The Director-General, Debt Management Office, Ms Patience Oniha, has said that many state governments still struggle to pay arrears, a development that threatens the level of debt sustainability in states.

She said this in a presentation document titled ‘Paths to sustainable debt management: the SFTAS approach’, which was obtained by our correspondent on Monday.

It was disclosed to our correspondent that the presentation was made by Dr Isiaku Mohammed on behalf of the DMO DG during a recent workshop for finance journalists in Abuja by the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Office.

Under the section titled ‘Challenges to Sustainability, the DMO DG was quoted as saying, “Arrears Clearance is still weak across most states.”

Last September, state governments including Kano, Benue, Osun, Delta, Ekiti, Ondo, Ogun, Rivers and Kwara had owed pensioners, with many of them dying without receiving their entitlements.

Labour leaders and officials of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners had told The PUNCH in separate interviews that aside from failing to remit the contributory pensions, retirees on the defined benefit scheme were being owed.

However, state government officials attributed the delay in paying pensions and gratuities to the poor economy of the country and assured the pensioners that the entitlements would be paid as soon as their cash flow improved.

On Monday, state workers and pensioners had carried the burden of a cash crunch in the country with many state governments failing to ensure regular payment of salaries, gratuities and other entitlements.

Labour leaders, who spoke separately with our correspondents in Ekiti, Benue, Ogun, Ondo, Rivers, Abia, Ondo, Edo and Kano states, noted that pensioners were worst hit by the failure of governors to perform their responsibilities.

Findings by our correspondents showed that deductions by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited from the Federation Account Allocation Committee had continued to deplete the funds being shared by the three tiers of government at FAAC meetings.

The NNPC had explained that its deductions from FAAC were due to the humongous subsidy spending it shouldered.

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