By Laraba Usman
The Federal ministry of finance has organised sensitisation workshop for stakeholders drawn from ministries, departments, and agencies from the North East zone on debts’ recovery drive.
Speaking at the workshop in Gombe on Tuesday, Mrs. Aisha Omar, Director special projects of the ministry, said that the ministry came up with a programme tagged ‘Project Lighthouse’ to help the federal government unravel debts and recover them from debtors.
Represented by the Deputy Director, Bridget Molokwu, said one of the key economic policy objectives of the ministry is improving the federal government’s revenue drive especially from non-oil revenue sources.
According to her, an important part of their policies and strategies is to leverage big data technology to help block revenue loopholes, identify new revenue opportunities, optimise existing revenue streams, especially non-oil revenue, as well as improve fiscal transparency.
“In actualising this goal, the Federal Ministry of Finance initiated “Project Lighthouse”, which has enabled the aggregation of relevant economic and financial information from multiple agencies who hitherto did not share data.
“Generally, revenue loopholes have been aided by poor information sharing and enforcement.
“Data from Project Lighthouse revealed that many companies and individuals who owe government agencies, have refused to honor their obligations were still being paid.
“Especially through the government platforms such as Government Integrated Financial Management System (GIFMIS ) and Treasury Single Account (TSA) due to lack of visibility over these transactions.,” she said
She said that the ministry through the consolidation efforts of the ‘Debt Analytics and Reporting Application’ has been able to aggregate the debts of approximately N5.2 trillion from data aggregated from over 5, 000 debtors owed to Ministries, Departments, and Agencies.
According to her, the debt aggregation effort is still ongoing and that currently, an approximate sum of N57 billion has been recovered so far from the amount due to concerted efforts by stakeholders and the federal government.
Also speaking, Mr.Abraham Atteh Senior Management Consultant said the debt of the government had remained public, stressing that both individuals and corporate organisations owned the government and her agencies.
“The emphasis over the years has been that the government is owing, but nobody is putting emphasis on who is owing the government.
“The debt recovery initiative is to help block significant revenue loopholes in government by ensuring that corporate entities doing business with government but failed to fulfil the transaction who are being paid on government platform are made to honour their financial obligation,” he said.