From Uche Usim, Abuja
Rivers, Zamfara, Bayelsa and Imo States have missed out on a N123.348 billion ($324.6 million) World Bank grant for failing its transparency accountability test. Experts have described the initiative as laudable as it encourages the states to be highly transparent in their operations; thus urging those who were excluded to work harder going forward.
Katsina State joined other 29 States to enjoy a slice of the grant. Katsina accessed over N1.7 billion from the fund, while Sokoto got the highest grant of N8.4 billion as it was rated the most compliant.
Kano got the least among the beneficiaries with a grant of N1.7 billion as captured by Finance Ministry’s (States Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, who disclosed this in a statement by Mr. Hassan Dodo, the ministry’s Director of Press and Public Relations, explained that the disbursement followed the achievement of results by the states in the just-concluded 2019 Annual Performance Assessment (APA).
The remaining 30 states shared N113.2 billion and what each of them got depended on performance.
However, each of them got more than N1.7 billion.
Part of the criteria was for states to publish online approved annual budgets and audited financial statements within a specific timeframe
“Bayelsa, Imo, Rivers and Zamfara states got zero allocation due to their inability to meet the 2019 eligibility criteria”, the statement noted. The Minister observed that since the first disbursement in April 2020, the Federal Government has so far disbursed a total of N233 billion ($620.6 million) to the states under the $750 million World Bank-assisted States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme-for-Results.
The assessment, Dodo noted, was carried out by the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation (OAuGF) as the Independent Verification Agent (IVA) and approved by the Programme Coordination Unit (PCU) of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
According to Ahmed, the disbursement included N91.048 billion ($239.6 million) of performance-based grants for the 2019 APA results achieved by 32 Eligible States across various Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs) covering fiscal transparency, accountability, expenditure efficiency, revenue mobilization and debt sustainability.
Commenting on the development, Prof Uche Uwaleke of Nasarawa State University, Lafia, urged states that missed out to work harder to meet the criteria.
He listed the conditions as: budget openness and transparency involving participatory budget process, operation of a Treasury Single Account, improvement in Internally Generated Revenue(IGR), measures to clean up payroll and take out ghost workers through the use of IPPIS, adoption of International Public Sector Accounting Standards, Efforts to clear pension and contractor arrears as well as debt management generally.
“Each disbursement linked Indicator has a specific amount attached as an incentive to state governments.
“A number of states, such as Kaduna and Lagos, have implemented most of these public financial reforms while some others have not done so significantly. This explains why some states get these grant while some others do not.