Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja and Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The federal government yesterday said it was not withholding statutory allocation to Ekiti State, contrary to the claims by Governor Ayodele Fayose.
The governor had Wednesday stormed the headquarters of the Ministry of Finance in Abuja to demand for the release of the state’s share of the monthly allocation from the Federation Account for December.
Fayose had imputed political motives by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government for the non-release.
However, in a statement, the Ministry of Finance denied Fayose’s claim that the ministry withheld statutory allocation due to Ekiti.
In the statement released by the Director (Information), Mr. Salish Na’Inna Dambatta, the ministry categorically denied “state’s the claim as incorrect as the ministry has not withheld any statutory allocation due to Ekiti State, or any other state in the country.”
According to the ministry, the fact was that the Ekiti State Government failed to comply with the necessary requirements for participating in the Budget Support Facility (BSF).
The BSF, it added, is a Conditional Loan Programme to state governments introduced with the view to enhancing fiscal prudence and designed particularly to enhance transparency, efficiency in public expenditure and payment of salaries.
“This is not the first time of non-compliance by the Ekiti State Government. His administration defaulted in meeting the conditions specified and agreed upon by the 35 state governments that are participating in the programme as contained in the Fiscal Sustainability Plan (FSP) and the Ekiti State Government was warned formally of its failure to comply with the full requirements vide a letter on August 5, 2016, with reference number HMF/FMF/ASG/1/2016.
“The failure of Ekiti State Government to comply with the requirements and conditions for the Budget Support Facility (BSF) resulted in a letter sent to the Chief of Staff to notify him of the suspension of BSF for Ekiti State and it was conveyed to Mr. President before payment to the Ekiti State Government was reinstated.
The Ekiti State Government and all the other participating states are aware of the consequence of failure to comply with the full conditions and it is not the first time that a state would be stopped from accessing the facility due to non-compliance.
“In the course of its normal duties, the Ministry of Finance has the right to query, suspend or withhold funds as part of the conditions of the Budget Support Facility,” the ministry said.
It added that “the process is for the commissioner of finance of any state or the governor having issues to contact the Federal Ministry of Finance and resolve the issues without resorting to the media because such issues are of a financial nature and therefore, confidential; they are routinely resolved amicably by the parties involved.”
“The Federal Ministry of Finance wishes to restate very strongly that the Budget Support Facility is a conditional programme and the federal government would not be intimidated or threatened in the discharge of its duties,” the ministry stated.
Meanwhile, as Fayose tackles the federal government over the alleged seizure of the allocation, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) of masterminding the withholding of the funds to punish the governor and stifle the state.
The party wondered why the state APC could assume the position of the spokesperson of the Federal Ministry of Finance to explaining the reason behind the action of the federal government.
The APC had in a statement issued by its Publicity Secretary, Taiwo Olatunbosun, claimed that the federal government released a sum of N1.4 billion allocation to Ekiti, describing Fayose’s vituperations as ranting of a beleaguered governor.
Also, a member of the seventh House of Representatives and APC’s governorship aspirant, Hon Bamidele Faparusi, urged the governor to be transparent with the finances of the state, saying the stoppage of the budget-support fund was part of the ways to curb profligacy in government.
In a statement by the state Publicity Secretary of PDP, Mr. Jackson Adebayo, the party explained that it was only in a despotic state where you can think of government playing politics with the welfare of the governs while decorating governance with blind vengeance as it operates now with the APC-led federal government.