By Emmanuel Mogbede
The forum, in a statement by its chairman, Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi on Sunday in Abuja, said Obaseki’s claims did not reflect the true position of things.
Obaseki had claimed that the federal government had printed the amount to make up for the shortfall in the distribution of the federation’s revenues to the three levels of government in March.
But Bagudu said at first, the impression the forum got was that it was an unofficial remark made in a private meeting by Obaseki.
He said, however, that the forum was shocked to see another response from Obaseki to the finance minister’s rebuttal, insisting that the March 2021 FAAC was increased via currency printing.
“Considering the importance of the statement by an incumbent governor and the possible negative impact it has had on the credibility of federal and state governments in the management of public finances.
“The forum is obligated to issue a statement to clearly set the records, and to our knowledge, the total statutory distributable income for the month of March 2021 was 596.94 billion naira,” he said.
Bagudu explained that due to the shortfall in gross statutory income of 43.34 billion naira from the previous month, an increase of 8.65 billion naira was made to the account of the Forex Equalization Fund.
He added that this brought the total distributable income to N605.59 billion.
He added that the federation’s income distributed monthly consisted mainly of mining income from oil and gas sales, as well as non-mining income from customs and excise duties, corporate tax and value added tax.
He admitted, however, that there were times when the country experienced significant fiscal shocks in federation revenues, but said the shocks were offset by other economies.
These, said the PGF chairman, were paid from the federation’s account, including distributions of the proceeds of the domestic excess gross and the foreign excess savings account.
“These payments have started since 2008, when the country first suffered fiscal shocks from the fallout from the global financial crisis from 2008 to 2009.
“As an economist by training and governor since 2016, Obaseki is aware of all the support states have received from President Muhammadu Buhari,” he said.
This, he noted, was in particular to deal with the shocks that had resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession.
He added that not only did states receive budget support from the federal government, but they also received bailout assistance to meet their wage obligations and reimburse infrastructure.
He said this has been implemented in the general interest of Nigerians without discrimination based on party membership.
“This is why it is unfortunate and dishonest to allege preferential treatment of CPA states when states ruled by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are even more beneficiaries of all the support,” said the president of the CPA. PGF.
He said there was nothing exceptional about this current review of economic orthodoxy because almost every central bank in the world has taken action to help their governments cope with the effects of COVID-19.
“This unfortunate and inaccurate statement by Governor Obaseki becomes even more disturbing when it is juxtaposed with the official statement released after the PDP Governors Meeting last week,” he said.
He recalled that the governors of the PDP, during his meeting, had called for a restructuring and a greater devolution of powers to the States.
He said it appeared that issues that required collective resolution from all leaders had been turned into purely partisan matters.
Bagudu said that while the right to criticize and have alternative opinions is recognized, all state governments have been treated fairly by both the federal government and national institutions, especially the CBN.
He said that the CBN had designed and implemented various interventions that helped boost economic activity in all states and helped the country’s rapid exit from recession in 2016 and 2021.
“These interventions include the anchor borrower program, the accelerated agricultural development program, the support program for small and medium enterprises as well as the expansion of a pre-existing program such as commercial agricultural credit.
“The global economy had been challenged in recent years, with fiscal and monetary authorities reacting in various ways to support their respective economies.
“In all situations, central banks had reacted to ease credit and in a number of cases where interest rates were close to zero, quantitative easing measures were taken to expand the money supply to the economy.
“Given the constraints facing the Nigerian economy, the CBN has responded laudably while continuing to work hard on exchange and interest rates,” Bagudu said.
He urged the governor, management and staff of the CBN not to be distracted and expressed his gratitude to President Buhari and his team for the support and partnership extended to all federating units.
He noted that in addition to occasional meetings with President Buhari, the National Economic Council, chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, meets monthly to discuss all issues in a transparent and comprehensive manner.
“So it would be helpful to warn us as leaders to work collaboratively to address these challenges rather than resorting to cheap and demagogic points in our quest to save the economy,” he said. (NOPE)
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