By Racheal Ishaya
Distressed states may not be able to pay their workers from the Paris Club refund before Christmas as originally planned as the refund had been stalled by a Consultant over unpaid fees.
The consultant has filed a suit against the states at Federal High Court Abuja for reneging in payment of the consultancy fee for services rendered in recovering Paris Club refund.
The 36 state governors were supposed to pay the consultant five per cent consultancy fee.
Further withdrawals from the Paris Club refund by the states government may have been stalled due to the court case.
A highly placed source at the Presidency, told NAN on Friday night that the consultant rendered services in relation to the sharing of the fund.
The source said before this new court case, efforts were in top gear to release the balance of the Paris Club refunds to states to pay workers’ salaries all over the country before Christmas.
“The payment of the Paris Club refunds is at the final stages. It will be paid to enable the workers enjoy the Christmas and New Year festive seasons,” the source said.
President Muhammadu Buhari last month directed all state governors to utilise the balance of 50 per cent Paris Club refund to settle unpaid salaries owed workers before Christmas.
To remove any hitches, he directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Ministry of Finance, and the Budget Office of the Federation to work out how the outstanding fund would be paid before the end of 2017.
The payment began in December 2016 with the release of about N522.74 billion to all 36 states as first tranche of the Paris Club refund.
The federal government later in July 2017, released N243.8 billion as second tranche.
The funds were released following protests by states against over deductions for external debt service between 1995 and 2002.
Meanwhile, the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting scheduled for Friday was put off till Saturday because stakeholders had not received the component statement from NNPC.
One of the state Commissioners for Finance, who pleaded anonymity, told NAN that for the second time, the NNPC is late in remitting funds into the Federation Account.
“NNPC is the major cause of all these things. It has not brought in money just like last month.
“Last month, the state governors insisted that the NNPC must bring in money before it later brought out N30 billion from Excess Crude Account (ECA) before the last FAAC could hold.
”Again this month, the CBN and Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) said they have not received component statement from NNPC.
”’This indicates that NNPC had not paid money into the Federation Account. Without that money we have to wait till tomorrow for FAAC meeting to hold.
“If the component statement is sent from NNPC, it will take about six hours before the stakeholders can go through it” the commissioner said.