The Federal Government on Wednesday approved the payment of N25.994bn owed by its Ministries, Departments and Agencies to electricity distribution companies.
The government also resolved to investigate the firm that was said to have exported poor quality yams from Nigeria to the United States.
These were the highlights of the decisions reached at a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, told State House correspondents that since the inception of the present administration, claims of debts by the government to the power firms had been a matter of concern, especially in the light of liquidity issues.
Fashola said the government had earlier agreed that it would only pay verified sums after proper verification was done.
He said, “We have concluded the verification and we now ask council to approve the verified sum of N25.994bn owed by the MDAs of the Federal Government to be paid to the Discos out of the claims of N67.41bn.
“So, there is a differential of about N41bn. That differential arises first because some of the claims do not belong to the Federal Government. Some are owed by state and local governments. Also, some belong to public international organisations and were classified as government debts.”
Fashola added, “So, there is more verification going on and undertaken at states and local governments, which we have discovered at the National Council on Power about a week ago. This is important so that the government can demonstrate its support for the private sector by paying its own debts so that the sector can do what it does well.
“Government has also approved that this amount that has been quantified be set off against the amount owed by the Discos to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader, a 100 per cent Federal Government-owned subsidiary company. They also owe government for their unremitted collections for energy they have taken and have not remitted. They are owing government about N500bn.”
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, also said the government had decided to investigate a company that exported a consignment of yams found to be of poor quality to the US.
He said, “One of the developments we were mandated to brief you on is about the consignment of yams, which was exported from here to the United States, and which according to the reports we have today, was found to be of poor quality.
“The ministry will investigate, because the ministry is not an exporter. The exporters are private people. We will investigate the company that exported it and ask our quarantine department to check and find out why such a consignment left here.”
Ogbeh also said the government was concerned about the high cost of rice, which he described as the most consumed staple in Nigeria.
He stated that rice growers and millers had been meeting in the last two days and had agreed to the plans that the government had been pursuing to arrive at a certain price.
“That means that in the next one month, the price of rice will become reasonable and the cost of rice would have reduced substantially,” the minister added.
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