The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved the payment of N1.712 billion for the contractor handling the 75-kilometre Gurara Dam water pipeline project in Niger State.
The FEC meeting, which lasted for about four hours, was presided over by Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo.
While briefing State House correspondents after the FEC meeting, the Minister of Water Resources Mr Suleiman Adamu, said, the memo was complementary to the earlier one he presented at the last FEC meeting on Nov.22.
Adamu said the pipeline contract from Gurara Dam to lower Usuma dam was for the laying of a three diameter pipeline.
“ Last week, we got approval to engage a contractor for one year and to have a training contract with the contractor so that we can prepare to handover the project to the FCT Administration.
“ So, this memo that was considered today has to do with the backlog of payment for the contractor because the contractor, as you are aware, has been maintaining the pipeline since the project was completed in 2008.”
The Council also approved the sum of N1.5 billion on voluntary Assets Declaration to cover advertising campaign for nine months.
The Minister of Finance Mrs Adeosun, who presented the memo, also briefed the FEC on the progress under the tax amnesty.
She informed the council that there were individuals who are ready to declare and pay.
“ We have sent out over 500 letters under the first batch, there are thousands of Nigerians being targeted but the first 500 letters have gone out.
“We have started getting responses back and many people are asking for time to pay. Most of the governors have agreed to give more time for people to make arrangements for payments.
“ This is indeed, a very good news for Nigeria as it will help reduce over-reliance on oil.
“ So, whether oil prices are high or low, we will be able to provide basic services for our people. Very high net worth people are now being brought into the tax revenue profile and we hope to exceed the target that has been set.
The Minister said it was too early to give an exact figure of the number of responses since the ministry had just started dispatching the letters on Monday.
“But, we have a telephone line dedicated to the project and a lot of people have called in to express their readiness to cooperate.
“ We meet the governors just two days ago and they all agreed because personal income taxes are also going to the state government coffers.
She said they also agreed to accommodate those who agreed they are owing but have not got the cash to pay.
“ Some people might have the house but didn’t have the cash, we need to give them chances to bring this money and we asked that they should give them time to bring in this money and they have agreed to do so.”
She said that government was targeting 0ne billion dollars and had already realised 110 million dollars from two companies.
She said government used information from land registries of states governments and the FCT as well as Bank Verification Numbers and Corporate Affairs Commission to get those who are defaulting.
`’We also looked at people whose names appeared in the Panama and Paradise papers, we also looked at people who have companies but are not paying the right taxes,” Adeosun said.
On the payment to Whistles blowers, the minister said, the Federal Government had earmark N421.3 million to pay the first batch of beneficiaries.
She said the only condition necessary for payment was that the money would be paid to the Whistle-blower who signed the agreement with the government, not to any third party.
”If we get the court judgement, we have to wait first three months to ensure that there are encumbrances as regards to any further legal challenge.
“ We get in touch with the state government where the person is domiciled, we pay the tax directly to the state and issue the tax receipt. So we built in these procedures to protect the whistle-blower.”