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Why borrow citizens’ dormant assets?


Sir: Those of us who are still with our senses in the country know how the government should manage dormant assets in saner climes. Take the United Kingdom dormant accounts scheme, established by UK Bank and Building  Society Accounts Act, for example.  Participation by banks and building  societies is voluntary in the first place. The Act enables participating UK banks and building societies to channel the dormant funds into good causes within the UK only through an independent body called Reclaim Fund Limited (RFL). 

The interesting thing is, customers are able to recover their funds at any point in time, because RFL has a reserve to meet customers’ reclaims. RFL’s duties include distribution of surplus funds to Big Lottery Fund that is saddled with the responsibility of making the funds available for good causes in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  It’s a well monitored scheme. In the UK, Assets are considered dormant after 15 or more years of inactivity and their owners aren’t reachable. So that’s the major condition under which participating organisations can move such funds to good causes. 

What are these good causes? Very simple. As at March 31, 2020, according to National Lottery UK, the good causes included:

Health, education, environment and charitable causes (40%); sports (20%); arts (20%) and heritage (20%). The dormant funds were applied to the above good causes respectively according to those percentages. 

According to the UK government,  the scheme—which started fully barely two years ago— has provided affordable housing for over 2,000 vulnerable people; job and training opportunities for over 26,000 disadvantaged people; and access to community electricity to over 250,000 people. 

The question is, why can’t Nigerian government do better than borrowing citizens’ dormant assets? This is unacceptable!

Olusegun Iselaiye, an IT professional, wrote from Abuja.

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