Lawmakers ask governor to produce details of Akwa Ibom debt profile


Lawmakers ask governor to produce details of Akwa Ibom debt profile

*Le’Meridien has not made profit for 10 years

The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has asked the Governor Udom Emmanuel administration to present to it details of the debt profile of the state and the repayment plans.

Usoro Akpanusoh, the Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations and Finance, made the demand when the state Commissioner for Finance, Linus Nkan, appeared on December 19 before the committee during the ongoing public hearing on the 2018 budget of the state.

The House criticised the administration’s continuous use of Zenith Bank Plc for all the state government transactions, saying it is detrimental to the state’s economy.

Governor Emmanuel was a director in Zenith Bank before he resigned to join politics. He appointed the state finance commissioner, Mr. Nkan, from the bank.

“It is observed that the state government operates its accounts with a particular bank,” Mr. Akpanusoh, who represents the Esit Eket/Ibeno State Constituency, said during his opening address at the public hearing.

“In the best interest of the state’s economy, and the Akwa Ibom indigenes working in other banks, it is pertinent to recommend that the government should extend its patronage to other banks.

“Besides, Akwa Savings and Loans Ltd, the only state-owned bank, needs the government patronage,” said Mr. Akpanusoh.

Akwa Ibom’s N155.4 billion local debts, as at December 31, 2016, is the third highest in the country, according to the Debt Management Office.

Lagos State has the highest with N311.7 billion, followed by Delta State with N241.3 billion.

Akwa Ibom finance commissioner, Mr. Nkan, declined comment when PREMIUM TIMES contacted him.

The state Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Victor Antai, told the House Committee on Monday that the state government has taken over the running of the Le Meridien Ibom Hotels and Golf Resort from Starwood Ltd because, according to him, the former managers of the hotel did not remit any money to the government for the past 10 years.

Hon Usoro Akpanusoh tasked the commissioner in charge of Culture and Tourism ministry to generate revenue for the state government while urging him to make available to the committee the amount of money paid to consultant that handle revenue and those that handled all the activities for the ministry.

Dr. Usoro Akpanusoh stated this when the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Hon. Victor Antai, appeared before the committee members to defend 2018 Budget estimate of his ministry.

2018 Budget defense : Le'Meridien has not made profit for 10 years

2018 Budget defense : Le’Meridien has not made profit for 10 years

Usoro Akpanusoh and other members of the committee expressed displeasure over the inability of the largest hotel in the state failure to generate revenue to the state government and described the situation as” sad”

The committee members was on the opinion that the Honourable Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr. Victor Antai, should go back and put modernities on ground so as to ensure that the ministry generate revenue for the state so that the State will not end up loosing after building hotel of such magnitude.

Earlier, while defending his ministry 2018 Budget, the Honourable Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Hon Victor Antai, said in 2017 actual approved budget for the ministry was 700 million but the actual expenditure was 4.45million.
Total proposed revenue was 50 million but the ministry generation for 2017 is zero percent adding that Le’Meridien hotels and golf resorts has not made any profit for the past 10 years . Pointing out that monies generated as revenue within the year under review was used in the area of power supply.

The ministry proposed 4.945 million for 2018 fiscal year and the money will be used for the development of Ibeno beach, museum development, Ibom unity park, Orange September celebration, Maintenance of Ibom hotels and golf resorts, decorations of Christmas village, organization of Ibom cultural carnival, Akwa Ibom Christmas Carol and other activities of Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The Honourable Commissioner further make known that the former …Le meridian Hotel and Golf Resort now to be known and called as, “Ibom hotels and golf report”.

Mr. Akpanusoh said during the public hearing, “We want to assure the Akwa Ibom public that our oversight function of effectively monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the 2018 budget will be judiciously carried out so as to ensure fiscal discipline in the conduct of government affairs.”

By Cletus Ukpong/ Victoria Anietie


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