Uche Usim, Abuja
Nigeria is set to establish a government-driven national donor coordination mechanism to ensure that external financing is maximised for the good of the country, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said on Wednesday.
The Minister added that work on the 2020 federal budget has reached an advanced stage and will likely be submitted to the National Assembly no later than the end of September.
Donor funds will be managed by the World Bank to ensure transparency and accountability, according to Ahmed, who made the revelation at a high-level roundtable on National Donor Coordination in Abuja.
“As we proceed, I would like to share a call to action that we all work together to put in place a national donor coordination mechanism that is aligned to government’s key strategic priority areas as set out in our national plans, policies and annual budgets. While government-led, this process must be collaborative in order to succeed,” the Finance Minister stated.
“We will be engaging towards setting up a Donor Coordination Unit (DCU) to be chaired by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and co-chaired by the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, and the Chair(s) of the Donors Coordination Committee. We will task the DCU to develop a roadmap toward setting up a multi-donor trust fund, to be managed by the World Bank, which will pool donor funds to enhance transparency and accountability
“Aid is most effective when it is well-coordinated, with mutual accountability mechanisms for government and donors. Above all else, it must be aligned with government’s strategic development priorities. While we have made some progress in coordinating aid in specific areas, such as in the North East intervention, and the Social Investment Programmes, we still have a long way to go in ensuring a government-led mutual accountability framework for aid coordination in Nigeria,” she stated.
Highlighting the need for the success of the initiative, Ahmed said that several key criteria to ensure its success include: A government-owned and driven aid management process; the establishment of a mutual accountability framework to ensure effective management of aid programmes/projects and resources, and information sharing; the ability to map donor interventions and ensure appropriate coverage across sectors, with an emphasis on sectors that are critical to achieving Nigeria’s key development priorities; proper linkages and harmonisation amongst development partners; adequate and timely sharing of information on Official Development Assistance (ODA) in-flows; consistent, timely and accurate reporting of activities and financing on the Development Assistance Database (DAD); the need for a strong monitoring and evaluation mechanism to track the amount and use of donor funds and ensure that such funds are benefiting Nigerians.
Speaking on development cooperation as a means of catalysing government’s interventions towards achieving its priority areas, the Minister said that “what is needed now more than ever in Nigeria is an innovative approach to external financing, which is government-led, and emphasizes the innovative use of aid to support and catalyze government programmes and interventions in strategic areas. This is especially critical, as we work towards developing and implementing the next generation of National Economic Plans, the successor to the Economic Recovery Growth (ERGP). We will work towards implementing policies and programmes in line with the present administration’s economic priority areas.”
On the 2020 budget, the Minister said: “It is well-underway, and we intend to finalise and submit the 2020 appropriation bill to the national assembly by the end of this month.
“As a first step towards ensuring that your donor programmes are aligned with our strategic priorities, and are in turn reflected in our upcoming national budget, we will hold meetings in the next few days to better understand your ongoing and planned programmes. Following this consultative meeting, a set of guidelines will be provided to support submission of your costed short to medium term plans, broken down annually. This process will ensure that we consider on-going and planned aid interventions when making our 2020 budgetary allocations, and that said interventions are reflected in the appropriation bill.”
The Minister also used the opportunity of the roundtable to highlight the Buhari administration’s eleven Economic Priority Areas. On economic and governance reforms, she focused on macroeconomic stability through coordinated economic, monetary, fiscal and trade policies, the fighting corruption and improving governance.
On enhanced investments in physical infrastructure, human capital development to spur job creation and economic growth, Ahmed outlined improved health, education and productivity of Nigerians; ensuring energy sufficiency with power; ensuring energy sufficiency with petroleum products; improving transportation and other infrastructure; and driving industrialisation, focusing on macro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
Concerning optimising investments in physical security and food security to drive inclusive socio-economic development, Ahmed outlined the following: Improved security for all citizens; enhanced agriculture self-sufficiency to achieve food security; enhanced social inclusion by scaling-up social investments; and improved access to mass housing and consumer credit to enhance financial inclusion.
The meeting was attended by the Ambassadors of Japan, Denmark, Norway represented by the Charge D’Affairs. Korea was represented by the Country Director, KOICA, while the US Ambassador was represented by the Charge D’Affairs.
Also at the meeting were the UN Resident Coordinator, who was represented by the Resident Representative, UNDP; AfDB Country Director; IMF Mission Chief; World Bank Country Director; UNICEF Country Representative; WFP Country Representative; EU Head of Cooperation; Acting Head of DFID, who also represented the UK Government; Head of Delegation, ICRC; Country Director, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and the Chief Representative of JICA.