PHILIP CLEMENT, ABUJA
The Federal Government has announced the disbursement of another round of performance-based grants to states in the sum of N123.348bn. It is under its States Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability Programme for Results.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, stated this in a statement signed by Mr Hassan Dodo, the Ministry’s Director of Press and Public Relations.
She explained that the disbursement followed the achievement of results by the States in the just concluded 2019 Annual Performance Assessment.
The assessment was carried out by the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation as the Independent Verification Agent and approved by the Programme Coordination Unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
According to the Finance Minister, the disbursement included N91.048bn of performance-based grants for the 2019 APA results achieved by 32 Eligible States across various Disbursement Linked Indicators covering fiscal transparency, accountability, expenditure efficiency, revenue mobilization and debt sustainability.
States received grants following the number of results achieved, with Sokoto State receiving the highest amount of N6.612bn while Kano State got the lowest amount of N1.710bn.
The statement said, “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.”
The Minister noted that the 2019 APA results were a significant improvement on the 2018 APA results where the total performance-based grants of N43.416bn 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 disbursement came after the recent one in November 2020 by the Federal Government where the sum of N66.5bn was granted to 35 States which achieved results under another new COVID-19 response DLI.
The Minister observed that since the first disbursement in April 2020, the Federal Government has so far disbursed the the l sum of N233bn to the States under the $750m World Bank-Assisted States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Programme-for-Results.
Ahmed reiterated that the World Bank-assisted SFTAS Programme is principally meant to strengthen fiscal management at the state level 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.
The Minister stressed that with the disbursement of the total sum of N233.26bn since the beginning of the Programme for Results, the government has successfully implemented the SFTAS Programme to provide timely support to States.
This would help to strengthen their fiscal capacity for responding to numerous fiscal challenges in their respective domains.
She said, “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 sub-national level.”