By Okon Bassey in Uyo
Considering dwindling revenue and huge financial burden being faced by the state, the Akwa Ibom State Government at the weekend confirmed its interest to key into the second round of bailout facility provided by the federal government.
The state Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akan Okon, dropped the hint in his office at a briefing jointly held by the state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Victor Antai, over the state of the economy, saying the state has all the requirements to take the loan.
The commissioner stressed that the bailout facility was very timely hence the state’s government readiness to avail itself of the window being offered by the new loan facility to meet the needs of the state.
He disclosed that the state received N5.3 billion as allocation from the federation account in the month of May, while its wage bill stood at N4.8 billion making it difficult for the state to meet its financial obligations.
“I want to state that in the month of May we received N5.3 billion and the wage bill was N4.8 billion. With this you can see that government is in a very tight situation.
“With the dwindling finances experienced in the state, the state government has to key into the window of the new loan facility being offered by the federal government,” the finance commissioner said.
He denied insinuations that the state government was abusing funds accruing to the local government councils in the state arguing that money that came from federation account to local governments was not even enough to pay teachers’ salaries, pay local government employees, and the pensioners in the local government.
Okon said it was not true that the state government has continued to tamper with local government funds, insisting that government in recent times had been forced to support local government areas in the state with fund to enable them pay salaries.
“Most local councils in the state are not financially viable and cannot even meet their salary obligations. It is the state government that has been assisting them to do so because the governor has vowed to ensure that all workers in the state get their entitlement even with dwindling revenue,” added the commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
Speaking on the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state, the Finance Commissioner said the state government between June 2015 and May 2016 generated only N15 billion which was not good during in this economic recession being experienced.
He explained that this poor show in the IGR of the state justified why the state secured the services of consultant as well as introduction of e-receipt payment in government financial transactions.
He said the e-receipt payment would eliminate or reduce to negligible proportions leakages in revenue accruable to government as well as a strategy to enhance the internally generated revenue collected in the state.
According to him, the e-receipt was the state government initiatives adopted to block the leakages associated with the current manual receipt issuance to tax payers and government transactions.