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Friday, 14 June 2013

States walk out of FAAC meeting

States and local governments yesterday aborted the May 2013 Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting. They walked out on Minister of State for Finance Dr Yerima Lawal Ngama and left Abuja without any cash.

The meeting is the forum where monthly allocation to the tiers of government is shared.
Commissioners of Finance Forum Chair Timothy Odaah (Ebonyi State) said there would no longer be FAAC meetings “until all the conditions are met by the Federal Government”.
He said commissioners were going back empty handed.
By implication, states that depend entirely on the monthly allocation from the FAAC meeting may not be able to meet basic obligations, like paying workers’ salaries and contractors.
Odaah gave the reasons for quitting the meeting to include: “The non-implementation of the decisions and resolutions taken in most FAAC meeting plenary sessions, especially the May 2013 resolutions which still remains inconclusive based on the fact that the arrears of February have not been paid.”
He also complained about the failure of the committee to pay “augmentation of last month (April Allocation) passed with a resolution.”
He said this augmentation has not been paid “and there is no clue as to why”.
Odaah lamented that “every month, returns from the states accountant generals appear to be shabbier than the previous one”.
He said states “have taken a lot of disappointment from the administration of FAAC which by intents and purposes has become templates of ineptitude”.
The states and local governments, he added, “have been bearing with the situation”. “Workers and contractors have to be paid, the various programmes of the state governments and local governments that are embodied in their various manifestos to carry the federation of Nigeria along with other obligations have to be met”.
The commissioners of Finance said they had decided to take the matter up with the President “ so that he and the state governments have to meet on these decisions that we have been hiding for them to put heads together with every other well meaning persons in the federation so that this problem will be resolved once and for all”.
Odaah noted that no member of the forum was absent from the media briefing, an indication that “this is a unanimous decision and resolution by all of the commissioners of finance”.
There were indications that trouble was brewing after the technical session when commissioners, while waiting for the arrival of the minister of state for Finance, told Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) Jonah Otunla, that they would not accept any delay of the plenary session, the meeting that endorses the decisions of the state Accountants-General at the technical session which also ratifies the amount to be shared for the month.
Shortly thereafter, Ngama came in for the plenary and about 50 minutes later, the commissioners of finance started trooping out of the auditorium of the Ministry of Finance venue of the planned FAAC meeting and headed for Sheraton Hotel to address the media.
The Nation reported on Wednesday that the Federal Government was constrained to pay the arrears because it had initially released $1 billion to the states on request.
The Federal Government argued that since the $1 billion was drawn from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) and financing the February arrears will also be drawn from the same ECA, paying the February arrears would drastically dwindle the reserves in the ECA.
However, the Federal Government has agreed to offset the February arrears in installments through augmentation to allow the ECA recover from the $1 billion withdrawn from the account.
The February arrears is almost $1 billion, the amount advanced to the states from the ECA as a privilege extended to the states.
(The Nation)

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