Kogi Debt Portfolio is Sustainable
Asiwaju Asiru Idris
Kogi State Commissioner for Finance and Budget Planning, Asiwaju Asiru Idris has declared that the current debt portfolio of the State is sustainable as current indices indicate that it is in conformity with the Fiscal Responsibility Plan as well as the World Bank Standards. He described as erroneous the impression that the State had overshot it’s indebtedness ratio. The Commissioner stated this during an interactive session as the Personality on Patriots Chat on Okun Patriots.
He declared that “Kogi State’s debt is sustainable as Kogi State Debt Sustainability Analysis at the end of the 2019 financial year is 110.5%. And the Fiscal Sustainability Plan recommended 250% while World Bank SFTAS PforR recommended 140%”.
Asiwaju Idris said bailout and refunds were used for specific purposes with disbursements published in line with the State government’s commitment to probity and accountability.
‘What the LGA staff are taking today is as a result of the allocation and other revenues coming into their coffers coupled with the reality that LGAs are over staffed; a hard fact many are avoiding. We pray for improved revenue so that they can pay more. ‘ Asiwaju Asiru Idris pronounced.
The Commissioner described as unfortunate the brazen attacks by gunmen within days in Isanlu and along Lokoja-Abuja Road.
He declared the sad incidents as a devastating personal loss while stating that His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello is not a man to shy away from challenges and that the governor is currently reviewing the security architecture and doing everything possible to restore the confidence of Kogites in the ability of government to guarantee the security of lives and properties.
He assured there would be marked improvements in the coming weeks.
Asiwaju Idris asserted that the pre-GYB era in terms of security of lives and property is more brutal, heinous and porous than the commendable milestones under the present administration.
He said that the government is indeed perturbed and heartbroken by the recent crime and criminality, but assured that the Governor is leaving no stone unturned to make sure sanity returns.
“As an award winner on Security, the Governor has charged the various security agencies in the state to roll up their sleeves, using resources and the networks from their headquarters to make sure all lapses in our security architecture is not only blocked but that a strategic surveillance, intelligence gathering means to over run the criminals and their sinister tendencies should be devised”.
In response to complaints arising from the staff screening exercise, Asiwaju Idris said “they are not new issues as issues come up everyday because the civil service is a continuum. Some issues happened last month. Some will still happen next month. The issue of trying to shortchange the system is serious. So we will keep addressing them. Recall former Minister of Finance, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala started the issue of ghost workers and up till now,the present Minister of Finance Hajia Zainab S. Ahmed is still battling with it”.
Reacting to claims that the Omi Ricemill Project is a White Elephant Project, the Commissioner said the primary reason why Government invested in the project was to create employment and since the project started operations, it has been able to keep over 500 direct and indirect Kogites in steady employment, hence the sustainability plan is working perfectly. He asserted that though the secondary reason is to generate revenue, once the privatization process is put in place, then expected steady income from the mill will be a reality.
“The project was well thought but at this stage, the state needs to consider privatization because in order for the mill to produce at optimal capacity, operational funds of over 2 billion Naira is required for the mill to source raw materials”.
“For uninterrupted production, 3000 tons of paddy rice is required per month at N170,000 per ton and at least 5 months stock raw materials are needed.
With the private sector, there are intervention funds available from CBN to cater for raw material purchasing called Paddy Aggregation Scheme that can only be accessed by the private sector”.
Idris submitted that the Omi Ricemill is a massive legacy project with multifaceted benefits capable of solving existential problems of unemployment, food insecurity and uninspiring Economic outlook around Okunland majorly.
He therefore declared that “it is a miscarriage of judgement to say nothing tangible has been done or call it’s benefits a mirage”.
On the plight of pensioners in the State, the Commissioner for Finance said those cleared have been paid last month with a request for details of any individual yet to be paid while expressing the government’s desire to clear all pension related debts and backlogs as the finances of the state improves,
He declared “that just last week,the State inaugurated the KOGI STATE PENSION COMMISSION to take care of both the state and local government pensioners which in essence means commencement of Contributory Pension Scheme for a lasting solution”.
On Osara Farms, “some investors from Turkey were received and they have visited the Greenhouse Project to see how they can be of help.
The decision of the State is to privatise the farm project and also to expand it on a PPP model.
The investors will be coming back by July to kick start the expansion job and training of our youths”.
He asserted that there are marginal improvements in advancing the livelihood and wellbeing of Kogites despite the enormous challenges at hand while noting that indisputably, there are still more grounds to cover.
“But if perfection can’t be attained, excellence is largely commendable”.
He assured that when the conscientiously laid down plans in the Agricultural sector, youth and women empowerment and mineral resources development are consummated, the economic renaissance as envisaged in the New direction blueprint would have been achieved and Kogites would be happy for such beneficial strides.
He craved the understanding, patience and prayers of Kogites for the government to enable it actualize the numerous programs in place for the overall development of the State.