The federal government has expressed readiness to recover about N5.2 trillion debt owed by some individuals and firms as it has approved the second phase of the Project Lighthouse.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo-led Federal Executive Council on Wednesday, March 31, approved the project.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this in a television interview after the council met.
Ahmed noted that the contract sum for the project awarded to Charterhouse Consulting was N316.5 million after the first phase was awarded to the company in 2019.
According to her, “It is one major area that we have witnessed remarkable progress in terms of recovery of debt owed to the government. Generally, revenue loopholes have been aided by poor information sharing and enforcement.
“So, this project Lighthouse shows that many companies and individuals who owe government agencies have refused to honour their obligations yet are still being engaged and transacted with and even being paid on governments payment platforms like the TSA.
“The Ministry in 2019, issued a directive to all MDAs to aggregate and send to the ministry a list of all debtors and the outstanding amount they owe to all government agencies. This we have put together in one central point that we call Project Lighthouse.
“Since that time, we have been able to aggregate N5.2 trillion worth of debt that is being owed the government by third parties.
“As at today, we have been able to recover about N49.7 billion of this amount through the effort and work that we have been carrying out with Project Lighthouse and we are still compiling.”
According to her, the ministry was able to get land registry data from three states – the FCT, Kaduna State, as well as from Lagos state – while others would join in the second phase.
She also noted that the project had enabled the ministry to identify revenues that government could collect using the common platform.