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Fiscal Transparency, Accountability: Minister Hails State Govts On Strong Performance

Zainab Ahmed

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Shamsunna Ahmed has thumbed up for most State governments in Nigeria for what she called “very strong performance” in all the key Results Areas of Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Programme.

She paid special tributes to President Muhammadu Buhari, for introducing laudable and enduring reforms in the Public Finance Management among which is the World Bank-Assisted States Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme for Results.

The minister, who spoke yesterday, August 17, at the launch of the States Charter to sustain Fiscal Financial Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Reforms, commended the State Governments for the demonstrable high level of ownership, active peer learning and peer competition.

According to Zainab Ahmed, the commendable performance of such State Governments has resulted into increasing fiscal transparency and accountability; strengthening domestic revenue mobilization; increasing efficiency in public expenditure and strengthening debt transparency and sustainability.

“Indeed, the very high level of political visibility and implementation structures created across the 36 States contributed largely to the successful implementation of the Programme over the period 2018 to 2022.

“As we gather this afternoon for the launch of the Charter, we are pleased to note that the Programme has achieved its objectives and made the following impactful deliverables: instilled a common set of fiscal behaviour and standards and facilitated the widespread adoption of good practices in fiscal and public financial management across the States while respecting their fiscal autonomy through preparation of Citizen -based Budgets, timely preparation and publication of Annual Budget and Audited Financial Statement as well as adoption of National Charts of Account.

“To date, twenty-eight (28) States have passed their Audit Law in line with internationally acceptable standards and all the thirty-six (36) States have passed their 2020 Audited Financial Statements before 31 July, 2021.”

Parts of the minister’s speech is reproduced here:

Also, 32 States prepared and published Local Governments’ Audited Financial Statements (AFSS) for FY2018, FY2019 and FY2020 including all allocations and actual receipts of State-Local Government Joint Account Allocation Committee (SLJAAC) transfers for each LG.

It has strengthened fiscal transparency by improving overall budget transparency and accountability to help build trust in government, enhance the monitoring of fiscal risks and improve accountability in public resource management. All the 36 States prepared Year 2022 budget in line with the National Charts of Account.

  1. Improved accountability through the deployment of measures such as BVN in the Payroll Systems and implementation of Treasury Single Accounts to minimize leakages in the system and promote efficiency in resource management. To date, 31 States have linked BVN to payroll while thirteen (13) have adopted the Treasury Single Account. Also, 30 States had conducted biometric registration of at least 90% of their civil servants and pensioners on the payroll and addressed identified payroll fraud.
  2. Also, many States have been able to increase their IGR significantly by reducing IGR leakages through the implementation of State-level Treasury Single Account (TSA), and intensifying efforts in IGR collection. Twenty-seven (27) States passed their Consolidated State Revenue Code (CSRC) by 2020 and 18 States were able to record a nominal IGR collection in 2020 that was equal to or higher than their 2019 nominal IGR collection. In addition, twenty (20) States have shown very strong commitment in establishing institutional arrangements focussed on laying foundation for State Property taxation which is a significant potential revenue source.
  3. To date, twenty-nine (29) States have passed Public Procurement Laws and all 36 went ‘live’ on an e-procurement platform by 31 December 2021. This will improve procurement practices to enhance value for money and reduce opportunities for corruption and misuse of public resources, thereby increasing efficiency of public expenditure.
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vil. It has strengthened fiscal sustainability through increased efficiency in spending, and debt sustainability to prevent further fiscal crises and enhance the fiscal space for productive spending aimed at supporting growth and public service delivery. Currently, thirty-three (33) States have passed State Debt Laws.

viii. The implementation of COVID-19 responsive indicators freed resources for effective response to COVID-19 at the peak of the Pandemic. All the 36 States had passed credible, fiscally responsible, COVID-19 responsive Amended 2020 State Budgets which significantly revised revenues in line with realistic projections, reduce non-essential overhead and capital expenditures with a view to protecting social expenditures. This significantly strengthened national response to COVID-19 and aligned efforts at both federal and State levels.

  1. It successfully encouraged peer learning and competition amongst States and further enhanced delivery of good governance.

I am pleased to state that a total sum of N471.9 bn has so far been disbursed by the Federal government as grant to States under the $1.5bn World Bank-Assisted States Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme for the results achieved following various annual assessments carried out by the Independent Verification Agents. It is gratifying to note that beyond benefitting from the grants, all the 36 States in the Federation have fully domesticated the fiscal reforms in their public financial management system through the adoption of appropriate processes and practices as well as legal and regulatory frameworks which are already yielding positive outcomes.

At this juncture, permit me to specially recognize the Chairman, Governors’ Forum, the Ekiti State Governor, His Excellency, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, his able Deputy, the Sokoto State Governor, Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal and their Edo State Counterpart, Governor Godwin Obaseki who chairs the Nigeria Governors’ Forum SFTAS Committee. The trio have indeed played major roles in institutionalizing SFTAS Programme not only in their States where they recorded outstanding achievements but in all the States of the Federation. The speedy adoption of this Charter bears great testimony to their unrelenting efforts in entrenching SFTAS ideals in government processes at the State level.

In the same vein, let me also commend all critical Stakeholders involved in the implementation of SFTAS for their untiring efforts towards the successful implementation of the programme thus far. In particular, officials of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the Consultants in the Programme Coordinating Unit, the World Bank Task Team for their Technical Support; the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation who serves as the independent Verification Agent, the Governors’ Forum Secretariat, the Debt Management Office of Nigeria, the Public Service Institute of Nigeria, and the Open Government Partnership Secretariat for their various roles and contribution towards the successful implementation of the Programme.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as we launch the Charter today, its my hope and prayer that current administrations in the States and those that will come after would continue to sustain the ideals of SFTAS as enshrined in the Charter and build on the successes already recorded. Let me also express the commitment of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to support the States in the implementation of the Charter as we work together to further deepen on-going reforms in Public Finance Management. I wish to also use this opportunity to implore our friends in the media and the Civil Society as partners in development to join hands with the States to ensure the sustainability of SFTAS ideals.

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