The Bayelsa Government on Tuesday announced plans to offset two months outstanding salary and pension with N8 billion from the N24 billion Paris Club debts refund.
Mr Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the state Commissioner for Information, said this while announcing the receipt of N24.16 billion from the Paris Club debt refund.
Iworiso-Markson was, however, silent on how the state intends to spend the remaining balance of N16 billion. He said that Gov. Seriake Dickson had directed immediate payment of two out of the outstanding three months salary arrears to workers and four out seven months pension arrears in the state.
Iworiso-Markson also denied claims by Mr Heineken Lokpobiri, Minister of State for Agriculture, that Bayelsa was owing N800 billion. The website of Debt Management Office (DMO) indicated that Bayelsa is listed amongst the five most indebted states with N123.03 billion as at June 2018.
“It is disgraceful and unexpected of a person occupying his exalted position and clearly shows that Lokpobiri is out of tune with developments in his home state.
“It was queer and indeed sad that a Minister could quote wild debt figures with the intent to mislead the public and discredit the government.
“The Debt Management Office in its June 2018 report stated that the debt portfolio of the state was N123 billion. This figure includes contingent liabilities which included contract payments and pension obligations.
“While the government is making every effort to achieve massive developmental strides in every area, government wishes to condemn the unguarded statements of some highly placed individuals.
“The recent unsubstantiated statement of the Minister of State for Agriculture that the State is owing N800 billion is disappointing of someone of his high office and indeed disgraceful.
“As a minster for agriculture, he needs to inform Bayelsans of the impact he has made even in his local government area. “We advise Lokpobiri to educate himself or engage a brilliant young graduate to assist him,” Iworiso-Markson said in a statement.
Lokpobiri had alleged that the Dickson led-administration had incurred the N800 billion domestic and $ 216 million external debt from 2012 to date despite the over N1.2 trillion allocated to the state from federation account within the period. He also said that the figures at his disposal were as a result of cumulative computation of yearly borrowings from the first tenure of the Dickson led-administration.
Iworiso-Markson said that while the state government got N21.94 billion out of the Paris Club Debt refund, the local government areas received N2.22 billion. He said that the state government decided to make the Paris Club Debt public in consonance with the prevailing policy of transparency and accountability on public funds.