Minister of Finance Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed has said that states government have been paid N471.9 billion out of the $1.5 billion World Bank Assisted States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability fund. The Minister said, “I am pleased to state that a total sum of N471.9 billion has so far been disbursed by the Federal government as grant to States under the $1.5 billion 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.
Speaking at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa during the presentation of the States Charter to sustain the ideals of Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability by the thirty- six state Governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, also said that 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 she said were already yielding positive outcomes. Ahmed said “Let me start by paying special tributes to His Excellency, 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. I wish to also seize this opportunity to commend the State Governments for the demonstrable high level of ownership, active peer learning and peer competition which culminated in very strong performance by most States in all the Key Results Areas of the SFTAS Programme which include increasing fiscal transparency and accountability; strengthening domestic revenue mobilisation; 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.
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.
“Improved accountability through the deployment of measures such as BVN in the Payroll Systems and implementation of Treasury Single Accounts to minimise 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. 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. 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. 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.
“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. It successfully encouraged peer learning and competition amongst States and further enhanced delivery of good governance.” Answering questions from Journalists, the Director- General, Debt Management Office, DMO, Patience Oniha said, “Written public financial management act, government, okay, and the good thing about it is that sometime in 2016, a framework was adopted collectively by the State governments and and the federal government called the fiscal sustainability framework for sub nationals to introduce a number of measures and undertake some activities that will improve public financial management. At the sub national level, as we call it, public financial financial management would involve budgeting, reporting, accounting, procurement, and all the likes supported by legislators.
“Officials to improve that process, because government at whatever level is serving people. So government should not only deliver, but the transparent and compliant in the manner in which is delivered to services. We know now that the states and in effect those laws as well, so there is compliance that goes to the state, specific country, as well as the state assembly as required. So those laws are there. They’ve also establish if I may speak in return today, more of them have enacted their own. Some colleagues, public finance, management, know some public debt management, business, we have a different. So there are things that business goes through a process, not one person. Finance I think we, we should admit, as we all know, that fiscal position at all levels can be better, it’s not as robust as you want it to be. So it’s not what is or is not because there are no processes or laws. And I think that’s the first thing is very relevant for the fact that the state governments, part of the component of sifters is to generate revenue, they generate sufficient revenue, that will only be complimentary just to be able to meet the expenditures, including salary.” On how easy it is to check governors, check expenditure, she said, ” I think there are two parts to that. So one of which is that the states as you know, at the federal level, we do have some laws that govern what we do. So we have a Public Procurement Act, as you heard that concerns procurement, which is expenditure, a major part of expenditure. We know now that the states have enacted those laws as well, so there is compliance that goes to the state executive council, as well as the state assembly as may be required. So those laws are there.
“They’ve also established if I may speak, in relation to debt, more of them have enacted their own, some call it public finance management law, some public debt management, just as we have at the federal level. So there are things that need to go through a process, not one person or two.” On question that there are complaints that some cannot even pay salaries, the DMO boss said, “I think we should admit, as we all know, that fiscal position at all levels can be better, it’s not as robust as you want it to be. So what is affecting the state is not because there are no processes or laws. And I think that the question you asked is very relevant for the fact that the state governments, part of the component of SDTAS is to generate revenue, they generate sufficient revenue, then FAAC will only be complimentary just like a few states have done and then they will be able to meet the expenditures, including salary.”