By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Government said it has approved the restructuring of repayment of the N50 billion bond secured by the previous administration to 2019, instead of the 2017 it was initially scheduled to end.
The state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Jonathan Obuebite, who disclosed this while briefing journalists after the 60th State Executive Council meeting, said already N92.6 billion had been repaid by the present administration with the state still having an outstanding debt of over N11 billion to settle.
Obuebite said that though the government has succeeded in restructuring the repayment period from 2017 to 2019, the conditionality and terms of the bond at the time it was taken by the former government were very unfavourable to the state.
Following the economic meltdown, Bayelsa government officials said, the leadership of the state decided to approach the bank for fresh negotiation of the terms.
Obuebite noted that it was necessary to reschedule the huge debt because the state was paying about N1.2 billion monthly to offset it.
Stressing that it was unsustainable to continue the monthly deductions at source, given the fall in the state’s allocation from the federal government, Obuebite explained that the deductions were eating deep into the state’s monthly revenue.
“Council approved the restructuring of a N50billion bond. We have paid N92.6 billion of the said bond. And it has been decided that the tenure of the bond should be extended from 2017n to 2019 to reduce the burden on government.
“Because of the harsh conditions, we pay N1.2billion plus, which is deducted at source and we have discussed the need to restructure and the bank has obliged us the privilege”, he said.
Flanked by his Agriculture counterpart, Mr. Doode Week, Obuebite added that in all, the state is expected to pay N104bn when the newly negotiated tenure for the bond lapses.
The government also frowned on the frequent vandalism of public infrastructure in the state and promised to punish all those involved.
It urged traditional rulers in the state to assist in sensitising their subjects to desist from stealing government properties in public institutions, including generating sets and air conditioners.
In his comments, Week noted that the government had decided to float a mega Aquarium Farm to allow youths and women own their own ponds with a repayable revolving loan.
The Agric Commissioner added that the 500-earthen ponds would measure 172 hectares and would comprise aquaculture, hatchery, and feed mill processing facilities.
He noted that when fully established, a single farmer would be able to produce 42 tons of each product per circle of production, explaining that the money given to the beneficiaries would be in form of “a loan and not a largesse.”