Opinion: Funding budget with unclaimed dividends: Is FG robbing Peter to pay Paul? By SEGUN AJAYI
Is anything wrong in government’s plan to sell moribund assets and concession others to fund the 2021 budget which is already weighed down by huge deficit financing?
Another source government is targetting is to borrow unclaimed dividends and money in dormant accounts which are being estimated at N850 billion.
Selling and concesioning public assets during economic emergencies is a global practice and I challenge anyone to rationalise why he or she would keep a completely knocked down vehicle or machine in his compound when the same can be disposed off and make some cash. The Federal Government, according to the Minister of Finance, Hadjia Zainab Ahmed expects to rake in N250bn.
Mind you, I’m not holding brief for government, rather my comments are predicated on deep and logical thinking.
To set the records straight, government’s has not said it would mop up, liquidate or confiscate monies in dormant accounts and unclaimed dividends, rather, its intention is to borrow the funds to fund the 2029/21 budget.
Barring sentiments and public distrust, I wonder how many of us are itching to reclaim the pittance we abandoned in certain accounts over the years; some running into ten, fifteen or even twenty years.
If I may ask, to whose benefits are dormant accounts which owners are deceased, but left behind no letter of administration for the account? The same applies to the legions of shareholders who have not regularised direct remittance of the yearly dividends into their bank accounts. And there are millions of such beneficiaries aside several others who are dead. In addition to these are cases of untraceable documents and general apathy to process the claims because oftentimes, they come as pittances.
Essentially, I don’t see this as a ploy to deny shareholders of their legitimate earnings. Whenever people are ready, they can process their claims and it would drop into their accounts. Whatever flak this move is drawing is similar to telling banks not to loan out depositors’ monies for fear of losing such.
It is obvious that beneficiaries of dividends won’t ask for their monies at once ditto owners of dormant accounts. Aside the fact that the planned action is captured in the finance act, 2020, the initiative is that of financial experts and the borrowings managed by the Debt Management Office (DMO).
Does this appear like the proverbial “robbing Peter to pay Paul” as these intentions are being perceived by many Nigerians, think on this.