Nigeria: Govt Woos CSOs in Bid to Sustain States’ Fiscal Reforms

The federal government has solicited the partnership of civil society organisations (CSOs) across the country in a bid to sustain the fiscal reforms which came with the $1.5 billion World Bank-assisted States Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme.

The initiative was designed to nudge states into imbibing fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainability.

The four-year (2018-2022) programme, which was anchored by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning seeks to deepen fiscal transparency and accountability in the public finance management (PFM) system as a way of bolstering good fiscal governance at the sub-national level is expected to wind down by end of the year.

As part of measures to perpetuate the ideals of the programme at the state level as it winds down, SFTAS National Programme Coordinator, Mr. Stephen Okon solicited the partnership of CSOs.

Speaking at a sensitisation workshop organised for CSOs in Lagos, Okon explained that as part of the strategies to ensure the sustainability of fiscal reforms at the sub-national level, the SFTAS Programme Coordination Unit (PCU) decided to engage stakeholders on the demand side like the CSOs who could ensure that fiscal transparency and accountability were sustained in state PFM activities.

A statement issued by the SFTAS’ Communication Specialist, Mr. Ibrahim Mohammed, quoted Okon as saying that the workshop set to achieve many objectives, including deepening the understanding of CSOs on the major programme elements of the SFTAS Programme for Results, enhancing programme visibility and buy-in; creating and sustaining mutual lines of communication, as well as contact and understanding between the PCU and the CSOs.

Others were to enhance community mobilisation for programme ideals’ sustainability and engendering ownership and participation by CSOs post-SFTAS.

He said: “At this juncture, I wish to stress that this programme now in its fourth and final year of implementation needs to be sustained if the full ideals are to be realised. I therefore call on CSOs and the media to continue to promote those ideals and take full ownership of the programme beyond its life span.

“Some of these ideals already entrenched in the states’ PFM system include online publication of approved citizens’ budget, audited financial statements, improved procurement practices for increased transparency and value for money; strengthened public debt management and fiscal responsibility framework, improved clearance/reduction of stock of domestic expenditure arrears, and improved debt sustainability.”

The National Programme Coordinator emphasised that beyond the disbursements, states were expected to continue to uphold and sustain the values and ideals of fiscal reforms initiated through the SFTAS programme, even as he called on CSOs to use the provision of the SFTAS charter recently endorsed by the governors under the umbrella of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) to hold governments accountable and promote good fiscal governance at sub-national level.

Okon explained that the federal government has so far disbursed the sum of N471.9 billion to the 36 states of the federation following the achievement of results in different Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs) in the Annual Performance Assessments (APAs) (2018, 2019 and 2020), carried out by the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation as the independent verification agent (IVA).

In his remarks on behalf of the Coalition of Civil Society, the Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), Mr. Debo Adeniran,

promised to close ranks with the states towards deepening advocacy and implementation of the ideals contained in the Charter, enhancing community mobilisation and taking direct ownership and coordination by CSOs post-SFTAS.

The NGF recently launched and signed the States’ Charter to Sustain Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Reforms whereby they reaffirmed their unwavering commitment to the sustainability and willingness to be further accountable to the people.

On the occasion, the NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi had expressed optimism that much was already being sustained beyond SFTAS’ performance years, with states still publishing their fiscal documents in line with appropriate standards and pursuing the implementation of various laws that have been put in place.

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