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N53.5b Debt Recovered Through Project Light-House– Finance Minister

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The Federal Government has been able to trace and recover debts to the tune of N53.3b within the last 18 months.
The Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, (HMFBNP), Dr, (Mrs) Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, on Monday disclosed that, the Ministry through the consolidation efforts of the Project Light-House, has been able to aggregate monumental debts of approximately N5.2 trillion owed the Federal Government.
These debts, the Minister said, came to the spotlight from data aggregated from over 5,000 debtors across ten (10) Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), adding that the Ministry working in collaboration with the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF), have been able to recover the sum of N53.5 billion within the last 12-18 month, through the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) as a recovery touch point.
The Minister said this at the launch of the Project Light House Debt Analytics and Reporting, Monday in Abuja.
She explained that Project Light-House is a data driven artificial intelligence engine that provides the Ministry with an intelligence and profiling platform to aid in policy formulation, implementation and assessing the impacts of those policies.
Project Light-House would support MDAs in developing a more efficient revenue assessment methodology by ensuring that major revenue loopholes are plugged and revenue collection is dramatically improved.
According to her, Project Light House is a platform for debt recovery and the aggregation of data from key resources to provide the Ministry and all revenue agencies under the Ministry with the capabilities to generate useful and insightful information for a more efficient and intelligent data-driven revenue mobilization.
Mrs. Zainab stated that the benefits of the Project Light House will provide an analytic view of revenue performance support to agencies of the Ministry as well as other arms of Government at federal and state levels.
She recalled that one of the key economic policy objectives of the current administration as contained in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is improving overall Federal Government revenue by targeting and increasing revenue from non-oil revenue sources.
ERGP according to her, will aim, among other goals, increase the tax base by drastically increasing the Company Income Tax (CIT) and Value Added Tax (VAT) compliance and bringing additional tax payers into the tax net, and increase tax revenue to the government.
She further said that a major step in the implementation of Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative (SRGI) was the improvement in the fiscal position of government.
The Minister lamented that “despite the fact that we live in a technology and data-centric world, we have not had a culture of using data and information to guide the formulation, implementation and impact assessment of our initiatives and policies or oven in carrying our mandate”.
Speaking earlier, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Aliyu Ahmed, said that upon assumption of office, that there was urgent need to critically look at the ways of addressing the “revenue Loopholes” across the public financial management space which threatened to impede the efforts of the present administration to deliver on the promises of job and wealth creation, infrastructural development, social and economic development etc.
Aliyu said that a review of significant revenue leakages in government was carried out by the Ministry which revealed that there were companies and individuals who owed government agencies (running into trillions of naira) and have refused to honour their obligations and were still transacting businesses with government.
These firms according to him are still being paid especially through the government platforms such as GIFMIS and Treasury Single Account (TSA).
“This was only possible due to lack of inter-agency collaboration required to give visibility over these transactions” adding that Consolidated Platform for the Recovery of Government Debts under its technology infrastructure –Project Light House was initiated in a bid to help the Federal Government realize revenue due to the Federal Government.
Also speaking at the event, the Permanent Secretary (Special Duties) of the Ministry, Aliyu Shehu Shinkafi noted that the usefulness of the platform for revenue generation efforts would be dependent on the cooperation and commitment of the MDAs in providing quality and relevant data (Debt- related) to populate the platform.

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