The 36 State governments in the country have improved significantly in their performance on fiscal transparency, the latest result of tbe States Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability Programme has shown.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed said8 at a dinner for governors in Abuja to celebrate the milestone.
Those present at the event included immediate past Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum and Ekiti State governor, Godwin Emefiele Kayode Fayemi and his Edo State counterpart, Godwin Obaseki.
Others were Jigawa State Governor, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar; Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, 2022 and Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu,
The Minister expressed delight that the $1.5billion SFTAS programme supported by the World Bank which commenced in 2018 has come of age with the full institutionalization of fiscal reforms at sub-national level.
She said the event held on the sidelines of the just-concluded 28th Nigeria Economic Summit in Abuja was specially convened to celebrate the success of the SFTAS Programme and present awards to best performing States in the successive Annual Performance Assessments conducted over the last three years of SFTAS existence.
Awards were presented to deserving States based on their performance in key results areas, including Overall Best on SFTAS (All Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs), Improvement on Original DLIs (1-9), Fiscal Transparency and Accountability, Domestic Revenue Mobilization, Efficiency of Public Expenditures and Debt Sustainability.
In the first category of Overall Best on SFTAS (All DLIs), Yobe clinched the ‘Top Performer Award, with Jigawa, Kebbi and Ebonyi states winning the ‘Excellent Performer Award’ while Sokoto, Gombe, Delta, Borno and Niger states got the ‘Very Good Performer Award’.
For the second category: Improvement on Original DLIs (1-9), Borno won the ‘Top Performer Award’ with Nasarawa, Kebbi and Bayelsa states achieving the ‘Excellent Performer Award’, and Zamfara, Imo, Kano, Ebonyi and Akwa Ibom clinching the ‘Very Good Performer Award’.
Under the Fiscal Transparency and Accountability category, Yobe again got the ‘Top Performer Award’ with Gombe, Delta and Ekiti states following closely behind with ‘Excellent Performer Award’ while Edo, Abia, Ondo, Enugu and Kogi States made the Very Good Performer Award’.
The domestic revenue mobilization category saw Osun state clinching the ‘Top Performer Award’ with Sokoto, Kaduna and Bauchi states earning the ‘Excellent Performer Award’ while Kebbi, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Kogi, Gombe, Nasarawa and Plateau states netted the ‘Very Good Performer Award’.
In the Efficiency of Public Expenditures category, Edo braced the ‘Top Performer Award,, closely followed by Borno, Niger and Ebonyi states clinching the ‘Excellent Performer Award’, while Delta, Yobe, Kebbi, Osun, Gombe and Jigawa states achieved the ‘Very Good Performer Award’.
Under the Debt Sustainability category, , Jigawa clinched the ‘Top Performer Award’ with Yobe, Kebbi and Ebonyi states achieving the ‘Excellent Performer Award’ while Kogi, Sokoto, Borno, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Niger and Nasarawa states grabbed the ‘Very Good Award.
Presenting the awards to the Governors, the Minister expressed hope that the award would spur them further to strive towards deepening and mainstreaming the reforms in their respective States.
Ahmed also highlighted that since inception, the programme has continued to enjoy a very high level of political support and commitment with steady and strong performance coupled with demonstrable high level of ownership by State and Non-state Actors especially the Civil Society and the Media.
She explained that the primary objective of the programme was to instil a common set of fiscal behaviour and standards and facilitate the widespread adoption of good practices in fiscal and public financial management across the States while respecting their fiscal autonomy.
“These good practices include preparation of Citizen -based Budgets, timely preparation and publication of Annual Budget and Audited Financial Statement as well as adoption of National Chart of Account amongst other Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs)”.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that over the years, SFTAS has achieved its set objectives and recorded significant milestones in improved fiscal transparency and accountability; increased domestic revenue mobilization; increased efficiency in public expenditure; and strengthened debt management in line with the already imbibed ideals”.
The Minister who described the SFTAS Programme as one of the country’s most laudable and enduring fiscal reforms initiated under the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration with the support of the World Bank also expressed optimism that the resounding success recorded, especially the wholesale adoption of the SFTAS Charter by all the 36 State Governors, the programme ideals already entrenched in the fiscal governance space at sub-national level would continue to enjoy a place of pride in the conduct of fiscal governance even in the absence of any further fiscal incentives.
She told the governors at the dinner that in the next few weeks, States will receive the last tranche of performance-based grants including the sum of N1Billion withheld by the Central Bank through Naira exchange deficit, thus bringing to a close, the Performance for Results Grant just as she adds that even though the technical assistance component will continue to be delivered by implementing agencies and partners till June, 2023 when the programme will finally wind down.
As at October 8, 2022, the Ministry has thus far disbursed the total sum of N475.5billion to the 36 States following their performance in the 2018, 2019 and 2020 Annual Performance Assessments (APA) with the last and final disbursement (2021 APA) to be made in the next few weeks.
Ahmed stressed that the continued support and commitment of stakeholders particularly the legislature and CSOs at State level were most needed in the last year of programme implementation to deepen on -going reforms and build structures that would entrench the ideals of SFTAS long after the payment of performance grants had ceased.
Speaking on behalf of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Sokoto State Governor, Aminu, Waziri Tambuwal assured the Federal Government and the World Bank of their continued support in upholding SFTAS ideals beyond the fiscal incentives noting that the grants were very useful and that the States had begun to streamline their operations, cut cost, publish their accounts, and deepen citizen engagements.
In his remarks earlier, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, revealed that the Programme has made “States to be much more open and transparent about their budgets, about what they have been spending on and on raising more internally generated revenue (IGR), so that they can keep the State governments functioning, delivering dividends to the citizens of the State”.