Delta State Government has cleared the air on myriad of claims that it was seeking new loans from banks ahead of the 2023 general elections.
It alleged that the misinformation is being peddled by the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, saying the state was not seeking fresh N100 billion loan as being alleged.
Commissioner for Finance, Chief Fidelis Tilije, stated this at a joint press conference with his Information counterpart, Charles Aniagwu and the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Olisa Ifeajika in Asaba.
Tilije recalled that the state government had earlier received an approval from the House of Assembly to obtain N150 billion bridging finance from the N240 billion accrued refunds to the state on the 13 per cent Derivation Policy.
He said that the needed facility was later reduced to N100 billion by the state government after deliberation with finance houses involved in the arrangement.
According to him, after the discussion a new lead-finance-house emerged as against the one that was the leader at the time the House of Assembly gave the approval for the government to obtain the bridging finance facility.
Tilije, therefore, explained that with the emergence of a new leading finance agent on the facility, and because of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s strict adherence to due process and law, “we went to the House of Assembly for a fresh resolution on their existing approval in line with prudential guidelines”.
He said “I am drawn into this because we are beginning to see some misconceptions, particularly with regards to the N100 billion discounting facility that the state haas taken.
“I recall very vividly too that we have had news conferences where we said that the totality of the amount that we are trying to discount is still the same.
“We intended to take N150 billion as discounting facility from the market. But, when we reviewed the cash inflows, we reduced it to N100 billion.
“It is that same N100 billion that we have to go again to the House of Assembly last week because we found out that the lead agent of the said facility was not moving as fast as we want.
“So, all we did last week was to go back to the House of Assembly to seek their consent to enable us change the lead bank for that discounting facility.
“It is not a new loan, discounting facility nor a new bridging finance. It is still the same N100 billion we have been talking about.
“I know that in certain other states, the need to go to the House of Assembly may not even arise. This is because the responsibility of determining who is a lead agent in such a facility, lies squarely on the Executive.
“But, Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, in his usual manner, felt that whatever alteration we are going to be making, we must still go back to the House of Assembly for consent.
“You will also recall too that while we were here before to brief you on this matter, we itemised all the projects we will be doing with the facility, and we are on course with these projects.
“For those who do not have the details of the projects tied to this discounting facility, they can go to the House of Assembly. It is a public document.”
On the other N20 billion facility, Tilije said that it was a loan for an investment by the state government in a floating gas company to be situated in Warri.
He said that the state government gave the company the condition of siting the company in Warri before it could invest in the project.
The Finance Commissioner further said that when completed, the project would provide jobs for citizens and increase the state’s internally-generated revenue.
On his part Aniagwu said that a number of the projects listed in the request for the bridging facility were being delivered, adding that some were inaugurated last week by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
He said the state government would continue to be transparent and accountable to the people of the state as promised by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and Vice-Presidential Candidate of the PDP.
-From Albert Ograka, Asaba