By Abba Dukawa, Kano.
President Muhammadu Buhari signed the 2020 finance act on December 31, 2020. The Act, takes effect January 1, 2021. Now Buhari’s administration has perfected ways to borrow funds from unclaimed dividends and dormant bank account balances unattended for at least six years.
Nigeria had perpetually grappled with the twin problems of heavy budget deficits and weak balance of payments. What is the guarantee that the incoming administration in the next two years and the subsequent ones will have the capacity to repay Nigeria’s debt that has reached a scary situation where total debt stock stood at some humongous rose to N31. 009 trillion ($85.897 billion).
From every economic indexes that if the country keep borrowing, and our debt increases beyond accepted level, and our growing share of GDP now needs to go into debt servicing or repayments, it may start to take the tax revenue that is needed for development. We have seen nations, especially developing ones like ours, suffer severely from such bloated debt burden, which means struggling to meet even the debt interest payments with nothing left to develop
Now financial Act, takes effect from January 1, 2021. Despite Hefty Debt for the country Why now Federal government intend to go after the amount of money in dormant account balances is about N737.5 billion. When combined with the N158 billion outstanding unclaimed dividends, the total amount of money that would be taken over by the FG may be up to N895.5 billion.
Even Though Minister of finance, dampened fears of owners of dormant accounts and unclaimed dividends. She stated, “They have nothing to lose as they would be paid their entitlements from the Special Trust Fund to be set up by the Federal Government once they are properly identified. How sure the owner of the unclaimed fund will access they fund considering bureaucratic bottleneck in the country is too inefficient and will not help the claimant to access his unclaimed dividend problem been solve.
Is this not be stressful for an owner to request for returns of his fund. To be fair, how can a shareholder with an unclaimed dividend of about N10,000 expected him go to Abuja just to make a claim of the unpaid dividend.
The shareholders had opposed the idea , saying the government lacks powers to manage funds belonging to private sector investors. In spite the existence law before this financial act clearly states that there shall be no forceful takeover of any private movable property of any Nigerian without due and appropriate compensation and or valid court order. In view with guaranteed of rights to own property as provided by the nation Constitution, this move was unnecessary because capital market regulators and operators had leveraged technology to put in place initiatives that are already addressing the issue.
Almost every day, Concerns Nigerians and Economists experts express worries over the country’s rising debt profile. Even 2021 Budget over N3.3trn will go to Debt Servicing. federal government has disclosed how it plans to sell and concession government owned properties and non-oil assets to fund the 2021 budget.
One may surprised too about the speed with which leaders at all level go for questionable bonds while legislators were preoccupied with determining their immediate benefits with unnecessary and conventional allowances which took no account of the state of the economy and the welfare of the people they represented. Nigerians current concern, however, is who will pay these huge debts? Really not us and also too weighty for the lean shoulders of our children? Is this not our children will be turns to slaves in their own country by the creditor nations, just because they want to pay off the debts left by the frivolous political class that have ravaged our common patrimony?
Dukawa write in from Kano state and can be reach email@example.com