A total of 5.4 billion dollars has so far been paid to states by the federal government for settlement of the Paris Club Refund.

Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, confirmed the release at a news conference on the state of the economy in Abuja, yesterday. She said that the Paris Club Refund was released to states in phases based on some conditions, which included that salaries and staff related arrears must be paid as a priority.

She also disclosed that the federal government has spent over N995billion in the last 12 months on capital projects in the country.

She said: “We have also received as of December 21, 2018, N995billion for capital projects,” adding that the federal government has released seven months overhead funding to its MDAs. According to her, “In 2018, amidst the delayed passage of the budget, we have been able to execute 67% of the expenditure budget. Our capital releases as at December 2018 stands at 50% of the capital budget.

“In 2018, despite the revenue shortfall we have been able to pay salaries and service debts 100%,” Mrs Ahmed said, adding: “We have released seven months overhead funding, and N995bn Capital releases by 21st December 2018. We plan to perform better during the rest of the budget year by driving up revenue generation to improve the fiscal space for spending.”

Ahmed also disclosed that government’s whistle-blower unit has recovered over N8.5 billion and $465 million among others from the 1,051 investigations conducted from tip offs.

The minister who lamented decrease in revenue generation in the outgoing year said “I am prioritising revenue generation and as a result, steering my team to implement some revenue growth strategies that aims to boost revenue performance by deploying the following initiatives among others.” Ahmed acknowledged that the nation’s fiscal environment has been challenging.