The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said the Federal Government had succeeded in recovering N49.7bn of its N5.2trn debt.
She said this while briefing State House reporters after the cabinet meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. She said the Federal Executive Council approved N316.5m for the second phase of Project Lighthouse, aimed at debt recovery.
She said: “Project Lighthouse is a data engine that collects, integrates and analyses data from revenue generating agencies in order to create insightful information for improved decision making.
“Messrs Carter House Consulting, a Nigerian technology company, who has worked with the ministry for three years, won the first phase of the contract in May 2019 and the second phase that is approved today is in the sum of N316.5m.
“One major area that we have witnessed remarkable progress is in terms of recovery of debts owed to government. Generally, revenue loopholes have been aided by poor information sharing enforcement.
“So, this Protect Lighthouse shows us 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 government payment platforms like Treasury Single Account.
“In 2019, the ministry issued a directive to all ministries, departments and agencies to aggregate and send to the ministry a list of all debtors and their outstanding amounts that are owed to government agencies. This we have put together in one central fund that we call Project Lighthouse.
“Since that time, we have been able to aggregate N5.2 trillion worth of debts that are being owed government by third parties and as at today, we have been able to recover N49.7bn of this amount through the efforts of works we have been carrying out through Project Lighthouse and we are still compiling.
“Project Lighthouse has brought together data from the FIRS, the Nigerian Customs Service, the Corporate Affairs Commission, as well as data from BVN in one central pool.”