In furtherance of efforts by the Federal Government to standardize and enhance its fiscal performance by plugging loopholes for revenue leakages through more effective debt recovery machinery, a zonal sensitization programme was on Tuesday held in Asaba, the Delta State capital.

Addressing participants at the event drawn from federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in the states of the South-South geopolitical zone, Mr Victor Omata, Director (Special Projects), Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, harped on the need for relevant organs of government to key into the Project Lighthouse Initiative in order to help the government serve the country better ultimately.

Represented by Mrs. Bridget Molokwu, a Deputy Director in the ministry, Omata said that the MDAs must leverage on real-time information sharing platform provided by the Project Lighthouse in order to help realize the objectives of the debt recovery initiative.
He noted that the government recovered more than N5.6 trillion through the aggregation of only eleven federal MDAs in the last couple of years, saying such was an indication of the enormous viability of Project Lighthouse, adding that cooperation among all the MDAs for greater achievements under the programme could not be overemphasized.

“Generally, revenue loopholes have been aided by poor information sharing and enforcement. Data from Project Lighthouse revealed that many companies and individuals who owe government agencies, have refused to honor their obligations were still being paid especially through the government platforms such as GIFMIS and Treasury Single Account (TSA) due to lack of visibility over these transactions.

“These debts are in the form of debt liabilities to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS); refunds to the Government by companies who failed to deliver on projects for which payment had been affected, unpaid credit facilities granted to both corporate entities and individuals by the Bank of Industry (BOI) and Bank of Agriculture (BOA); judgment debt in favor of Government, debts owed Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) by Insurance Companies etc.


“It may interest you to note that the Ministry, through the consolidation efforts of the Debt Analytics and Reporting Application, has been able to aggregate monumental debts of approximately N5.2 trillion. These debts came to the spotlight from data aggregated from over 5,000+ debtors across ten (10) Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). The debt aggregation effort is still ongoing”, the Special Projects Director of the Ministry stated.

Omata observed that the Federal Government was desirous of improving on its fiscal responsibility for better socio-economic service delivery hence a centralized resilient, technology-driven platform for sustainable debt recovery was approved by the government.

He noted that Project Lighthouse was therefore initiated as “one of the portfolio projects under the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative (SRGI). This initiative has enabled the aggregation of relevant economic and financial information from multiple agencies who hitherto did not share data.

He said, “Project Lighthouse was designed to help the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning (FMFBNP) to solve perennial problems using big data analytics and machine learning technology. The system collects, integrates and analyzes data from revenue-generating agencies in order to create insightful information for improved decision making.”

While expressing confidence in the Project Lighthouse and urging all MDAs to key into the initiative, Omata said, “It is my firm belief that together we can dramatically change our revenue story by fully and innovatively exploiting the great power of Big Data Analytics, Data Science and related technologies. I therefore wish to urge all stakeholders to put in their best to ensure the successful implementation of this initiative.”

On the importance of building greater financial resilience, one of the resources persons at the sensitization and training event, Suleiman Tambaya, said, “In the light of some of the socioeconomic as well as environmental challenges permeating Nigeria’s economy, it is therefore required that the Nigerian Government should concentrate on key areas that can help boost and sustain developmental objectives.”

In his presentation, Mr. Abraham Atteh, also of Carter Consulting Limited, noted that Project Lighthouse has already pointed the way to go in the drive for improved revenue to the Federal Government through efficient and effective debt recovery system, stressing the need for an expanded data base, which will constitute the framework for the desired improved fiscal policies.

A communiqué was expected to be drawn up based on the deliberations and outcomes of the South-South zonal sensitization and training programme under the Project Lighthouse Initiative of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning.


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