BY MARK ITSIBOR, Abuja
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, yesterday disclosed that the federal government has succeeded in recovering N49.7billion out of its N5.2trillion debt.
She also informed that the federal government will spend N296 billion on COVID-19 vaccinations in 2021 and 2022.
She also confirmed that the supplementary budget for procurement of security equipment and COVID-19 vaccines being prepared by the federal government is not ready yet.
Ahmed disclosed this to State House correspondents after a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
She was speaking on the council’s approval for the second phase of Project Lighthouse, which is a component that is meant to expand the debt recovery capability of the project.
Project Lighthouse, according to the minister, is a data engine that collects, integrates and analyses data from revenue generating agencies in order to create insightful information for improved decision making.
She said Messrs Carter House Consulting, a Nigerian technology company, who has worked with the ministry for three years, won the first phase of the contract in May 2019 and the second phase that was approved on Wednesday was in the sum of N316.5 million.
She said, “One major area that we have witnessed remarkable progress is in terms of recovery of debts owed to government. Generally, revenue loopholes have been aided by poor information sharing enforcement.
“So, this Protect Lighthouse shows us that many companies and individuals who owe government agencies have refused to honour their obligations yet are still being engaged and transacted with, and even being paid on government payment platforms like Treasury Single Account.
“In 2019, the ministry issued a directive to all ministries, departments and agencies to aggregate and send to the ministry a list of all debtors and their outstanding amounts that are owed to government agencies. This we have put together in one central fund that we call Project Lighthouse.
“Since that time, we have been able to aggregate N5.2 trillion worth of debts that are being owed government by third parties and as at today, we have been able to recover N49.7 billion of this amount through the efforts of works we have been carrying out through Project Lighthouse and we are still compiling.
“Project Lighthouse has brought together data from the FIRS, the Nigerian Customs Service, the Corporate Affairs Commission, as well as data from BVN in one central pool.
“Also, we are hoping we get data from three states; land registry data from the FCT, from Kaduna State, as well as from Lagos State and other states will also be joining in the second phase.”