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32 states get World Bank’s N123.38bn SFTAS grant

Rivers, Bayelsa, Imo, Zamfara miss out
Sokoto top beneficiaries with N6.61bn

No fewer than 32 states of the federation has again benefitted from the World Bank’s States Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme grant. Four states – Bayelsa, Imo, Rivers and Zamfara – got zero allocation due to their inability to meet the 2019 eligibility criteria as the Federal Government confirmed disbursing another N123.348 billion ($324.6 million) to states. The latest disbursement confirmed in a statement yesterday by Director of Information, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mr. Hassan Dodo, brought the total amount disbursed thus far to states under SFTAS programme to N233 billion ($620.6 million).

SFTAS is a World Bankassisted programme. The four states missed out for failing to publish online approved annual budgets and audited financial statements within a specific timeframe. Rivers State failed in previous disbursement carried out in November 2020 for the same reason. Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, said the disbursement followed achievement of results by the states in the just-concluded 2019 Annual Performance Assessment (APA).

The assessment 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. States received grants in accordance to the number of results achieved, with Sokoto State receiving the highest amount of N6.612 billion, while Kano got the lowest amount of N1.71 billion.

“Bayelsa, Imo, Rivers and Zamfara states got zero allocation due to their inability to meet the 2019 eligibility criteria, which required states to publish online approved annual budgets and audited financial statements within a specific timeframe,” she said. She further noted that the 2019 APA results were a significant improvement on the 2018 APA results where the total performance- based grants of N43.416 billion ($120.6 million) were received by 24 eligible states, demonstrating the substantive progress states have made on fiscal reforms. She disclosed that the second part of the disbursement involved a new COVID-19 response DLI.

“The implementation of a tax compliance relief programme for individual taxpayers and businesses by states by 30 September 2020 where 34 out of 36 states (only Anambra and Zamfara states missed out) were able to achieve the results for this new DLI for the total of N32.3 billion ($85 million) of grants.

“The disbursement came after the recent one in November 2020 by the Federal Government where the sum of N66.5 billion ($175 million) was granted to 35 states, which achieved results under another new COVID-19 response DLI: the passing of an Amended COVID-19 Responsive 2020 budget by 31 July 2020,” she said.

The minister observed that since the first disbursement in April 2020, the Federal Government has thus far disbursed the total sum of N233 billion ($620.6 million) to the states under the $750 million World Bank-Assisted SFTAS Programme- for-Results.

Ahmed reiterated that the World Bank-assisted SFTAS programme is principally meant to strengthen fiscal management at the state level so as to ensure effective mobilisation and utilisation of financial resources to the benefit of their citizens in a transparent, accountable and sustainable manner, thereby reducing fiscal risks and encouraging a common set of fiscally responsible behaviours. She noted that the SFTAS programme could not have come at a better time, given the dwindling government revenue occasioned by oil price volatility and coupled with the current impact of COVID-19 which has further intensified the need for improved practices in fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainability as enunciated in the SFTAS ideals.

“We have thus far successfully adapted and implemented the SFTAS programme to provide timely support to states with a view to strengthening their fiscal capacity for responding to numerous fiscal challenges in their respective domains. “The increase in the number of benefitting states and results achieved is indicative of the wider acceptance of SFTAS ideals by all states of the Federation and this would herald a new era of transparency and accountability in fiscal governance at the subnational level,” she said.

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