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Delta Yet To Access N150bn Loan From FG To Scale Up Projects — Govt

Two months after applying for a N150 billion bridging finance from the Federal Government, Delta State government says it is yet to access it.

According to the state governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, the funds had not reached the state because the Federal Government was yet to commence remittances to the state, contrary to the agreement.

Recall the state had sought the loan since April principally to settle the arrears of unpaid certificates earned by contractors with respect to the completion of some critical ongoing legacy projects awarded by past and present administrations in the state.

Part of the loan is expected to be used in taking care of outstanding pension commitments to the state and local government areas.

Speaking shortly after inspecting ongoing works at the Koka flyover bridge and interchange in Asaba, Okowa said that the facility was one of the projects that the bridging finance was meant to cover, adding that “when the money is available, we will be able to use it to upscale these projects.

“The bridging finance is actually that which we already have a source of repayment and rather than allow the depreciation of the Naira or the extension of time at work create a cost escalation for us, our intention was to take bridging finance and then pay back from the monies that the Federal Government owes us.

“But as of today, we have not even accessed the bridging finance because the repayment plan from the Federal Government, which is supposed to have started by January has not commenced; they have not made any remittances to the state.

“Some states have taken a part of their own bridging finance because we are not the only state involved. But for us, we intend to wait until the refund process starts before accessing the bridging finance.

“So, we have not yet accessed that bridging finance at the moment but we have got the approval of the House of Assembly.

“I hear that some of our brothers who don’t even understand governance have tried to critique the situation but unfortunately, when some people don’t understand what is in government and how you can save funds for the people, they could talk politics and criticise.

“But I am very confident that whatever we are about to do, we are doing it in the best interest of the state; we are trying to save money for the state, we are trying to save situations where you have a cost overrun and cost escalations.

“We do hope that as soon as the first set of refunds come from the Federal Government, we would be able to access the bridging finance to be able to scale up the speed of the major projects that we have as listed before the House of Assembly and utilise the money for some other sources.

“But as of today, we are still coping and we hope that very soon the Federal Government will start the process of refund and we will be in a position to ensure that we speed up all the projects we have.”

Okowa explained that a slowdown and depreciation of the naira could be a major disaster because the bridging finance was meant to be a cost-saving measure for the state.

On the Koka flyover project, he expressed optimism that the project would be completed in December 2022.

“I can actually see that work is on schedule and they have gone very far from the briefing that I received from the Commissioner for Works.

“You know that when we came in last, they told me that they would try and finish it in February, next year, but I put a lot of pressure and insisted that we wanted it completed this year.

“The information I received is that they are still working very hard to ensure that they finish the project by the middle of December.”

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