Friday, 8 May 2020

C'River, 11 states miss out of grants, Finance Commissioner receives knocks

L-R: Commissioner Asuquo Ekepenyong Jnr, Gov Ben Ayade, Minister Zainab Ahmed 
8 May 2020

Cross River and eleven (11) other Nigerian sub-national entities have failed to be beneficiaries of the World Bank-assisted States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme in 2018.

Cross River and the other states failed to secure the SFTAS programme because they failed to publish their annual appropriation law and audited financial statements virtually within the timeframe stipulated by the SFTAS Programme Operation Manual (POM).

The other 11 states which were not beneficiaries of the 2018 grants for failing to meet the eligibility criteria include Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Borno, Ebonyi, Imo, Lagos, Nasarawa, Plateau, Rivers and Zamfara states.

According to the federal government it had disbursed the sum of N43.42 billion (about $120.6 million) to 24 eligible states because of their achievements under SFTAS programme in 2018.

The said 24 states which were successful in meeting the eligibility criteria are Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Ondo, Ogun,Oyo, Osun, Sokoto, Taraba and Yobe.

There are Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs) derived from the country's 22-point Fiscal Sustainability Plan and the 14 Open Government Partnership (OGP) commitments which aim to strengthen fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainable development across the 36 states of the federation.

According to PremiumTimes, the DLIs which eligible states recorded to receive the grants included achieving improved financial reporting and budget reliability; increased openness and citizens' engagement in the budget process; improved cash management, reduced revenue leakages through the implementation of Treasury Single Account (TSA), strengthened Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) collection; biometric registration and Bank Verification Number (BVN) used to reduce fraudulent activities around the payroll.

A social commentator, Richie Romanus, has suggested that the Cross River Commissioner for Finance, Asuquo Ekepenyong Jnr, is preoccupying himself with his rumoured gubernatorial ambition than his primary responsibility as finance boss. According to Romanus: '... we have a Commissioner of Finance with a rumoured Governorship ambition. Am sure he is busy pursuing the governorship aspiration rather than focusing on what he already has at hand. I think it is high time we leave Governor Ayade and talk about some of these people he has entrusted certain responsibilities on. They keep failing on a daily basis and because the bugs (sic) falls on the governor's table, we put all the blames on him.'

The SFTAS programme which is a $750 million wholly-financed loan facility by the World Bank Group affiliate, the International Development Association (IDA), aims at facilitating the culture of fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainable development by states in the country. 

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