Nigeria: Govt Disburses N351.65bn in World Bank’s SFTAS to Promote Fiscal Transparency in States

The federal government has so far disbursed a total of N351.65 billion grant to participating states in the last four years under the World Bank-assisted States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme for Results (PforR).

SFTAS’ National Programme Coordinator, Mr. Stephen Okon made the disclosure at the weekend in Abuja, on the sidelines of a national workshop for civil society organisations (CSOs).

The four-year SFTAS Programme (2018-2022) was approved by the World Bank in June 2018 and commenced in May 2019 to nudge states into imbibing fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainability.

The original $750 million loan from the World Bank comprised two components – the performance-based grants from the federal government to states for achieving the Annual Eligibility Criteria and the Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs), which is the programme results.

SFTAS, which seeks to encourage states to significantly improve outcomes in four key results, is designed to provide performance -based grants and technical assistance to them to implement the 22- point Fiscal Sustainability Plan (FSP) and the Open Government Partnership (OGP).

The four key areas where states expected to significantly increase results are: Fiscal Transparency and Accountability; Strengthen Domestic Revenue Mobilisation; Increase Efficiency in Public Expenditure and Strengthen Debt Sustainability.

Okon told journalists that of the $1.5 billion released by the World Bank in two tranches of $750 million each, the sum of N351,650,867,450 had been disbursed to states that met the Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs).

He said: “We had started disbursing second tranche of the $750 million long ago, and in fact, it might interest you to note that up till now, about N351.65 billion has been disbursed to states as grants for achievements made in respect of what we call the Disbursement Linked Indicators.

“Currently we are also in the process of making more disbursement for the 2020 APA and the 2021 APA (Annual Performance Assessment).

“The 2021 APA, which we expect to disburse in October will be the last of this disbursement.

Okon stated that SFTAS came with what he described as a ‘dangling gold’, adding that the message is: “If you do this, we are going to pay a certain amount of money. It’s something we welcomed and started pushing right from then to see to what extent we get those states to open as much as possible.”

According to him, the SFTAS Programme which comes to an end this year has achieved so much in building transparency, accountability and sustainability among the states, particularly in terms of accountability.

He noted that it had made all the states to publish their annual budgets and their end of year account on timely basis.

“We also have had all the states improve their internally generated revenue. Then, in terms of building a basis for comparison among the states, we have all the states currently in terms of matters that relate to Treasury Single Account (TSA), matters that relate to procurement law, matters that relate to audit law.

“Almost all the states in the federation now have all these in place and it has really promoted accountability transparency and accountability among the states of the federation,” he stated.

On the possible extension of the SFTAS Programme beyond 2022, Okon disclosed that no clear position had been taken on that.

However, he stated that because of the impact on the states and public finance management, it was not impossible that such considerations may be explored moving forward.

Earlier in his briefing for the CSOs, Okon noted that in a bid to encourage a common set of fiscal behaviour aimed at promoting fiscal transparency, accountability, and sustainability among the states of the federation, the World Bank and the federal government developed a four-year (2018 – 2022) Programme for Results (PforR) facility worth $750 million tagged States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS)

Following the advent of COVID-19 in December 2020, he added that the World Bank approved an additional financing of $750 million to the SFTAS PforR to assist states to cope with the fiscal constraints occasioned by the pandemic.

The SFTAS National Programme Coordinator said programme combines select actions from the Fiscal Sustainability Plan (FSP) and the Open Government Partnership (OGP) agenda to form its disbursement linked results which states are to meet in order to access funds.

“As part of its strategies to ensure the sustainability of fiscal reforms, the SFTAS Programme Coordination Unit, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning is engaging stakeholders on the demand side like the CSOs who can ensure that fiscal transparency and accountability are sustained in state public finance management (PFM) activities.

He stressed that it was an incontrovertible fact that CSOs the world over are veritable platforms for the promotion of good fiscal governance and sustainable development.

In their quest to ensure the emergence of an egalitarian society, he said, “CSOs have been known to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted by holding leaders at all levels accountable thus ensuring transparency and accountability in public financial management especially at the state level.

“They are also at the vanguard of mobilising the citizenry towards national development through organising advocacy activities of government policies, programmes and actions.

“This is why the Ministry in its wisdom decided to engage you in this onerous task of nation building where all hands must be on deck to improve and sustain the ideals of SFTAS beyond the programme life span,” he stated.

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