The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said the government has been able to aggregate monumental debts of approximately N5.2 trillion owed by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), out of which N53.5 billion had been recovered in the last 12-18 months.
Mrs Ahmed disclosed this at the formal launch of Project Lighthouse Debt Analytics and Reporting Platform in Abuja on Monday.
She said that the figures came up from data aggregated from over 5,000 debtors across 10 MDAs.
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“Working in collaboration with the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF), we have been able to recover the sum of N53.5 billion within the last 12-18 months, through the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) as a recovery touch point ” she said.
Mrs Ahmed said the Project Lighthouse is an initiative which entails using advanced data mining and analytics techniques to identify tax defaulters, establish their tax liabilities and send notifications to appropriate authorities for necessary actions.
“To consolidate on the current effort of this project, a Debt Recovery Application has been built to be monitored by the new Debt Recovery Unit.
“The Debt Recovery Unit will capitalise on the effort made by the project consultants to provide the government with up-to-date records into its credit status.
“By harmonising debt records across all MDAs within the country, give debtors access to a platform to view and offset debt in a seamless and secured manner as well as strengthen the institutional framework for enforcement and management of the Federal Debt Recovery plan,” she said.
The minister tasked all Federal Government-Owned Enterprises (FGOEs) and MDAs to update their list of debtors on a month-on-month basis in line with the Project Lighthouse debt recovery portfolio.
Mrs Ahmed said that this would also encompass the development of an institutional framework for enforcement, recovery and management of the fiscal environment.
The minister, however, regretted that in spite of being in a technology and data-centric world, Nigeria had no culture of using data and information to guide the formulation, implementation and impact assessment of its initiatives and policies.
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