From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Delta State Government on Monday declared that it is the most financially solvent state in Nigeria with the capacity to clean up it’s debt profile of N272 billion.
But the government said it will not defray the total debt from expected refunds from the Federal Government, explaining that the move was to build solid financial foundation for the next administration.
Addressing journalists in Asaba, the state Commissioner for Finance, Fidelis Tilije insisted that from the N240 billion expected refunds, the state has received N14.7 billion in three quarterly installments, adding that another N30 billion was accessed from the commercial market through bridging finance.
Tilije gave a breakdown of the N272 billion debt profile to include N84 billion for contractors, about N27 as pension arrears, adding that the balance was an inherited debt from the previous administrations.
“Delta is the most solvent state in Nigeria which is why if we were to take a discounting of all the expected refunds from the FG, we will write off all the debt profile of Delta State clean without touching FAAC and IGR receipts which means that Delta is the only state that can write off all the debts and still run normally.
“Why are we not cleaning up the debt profile if we are so sure that the refunds from FAAC can clean it up? Okowa is a very conservative manager of resources.
“When he came on board in 2015, he saw real hell in trying to manage resources of the state which is why all the state governors have to take the salary bailout of which that of Delta got N10 billion.
“The truth is if we are to take the total refunds, we will be putting the successive government into the same trap which Okowa met in 2015.
“So he (Okowa) decided that he will be his brother’s keeper, he will take a percentage of it and leave the other for the in coming administration.
“I do know that most of all the oil producing states went ahead to discount 100% of the expected refund. If we had done that, then we would have been able to clean up out debt profile.
“So we are laying a very solid financial foundation for them to come and hit the ground running. That is why we didn’t clean up the totality of the debt, we know that the cash flow is enough to sustain our legacy projects, it is enough to complete and commission all the legacy projects that we are doing,” he said.