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Bauchi, Ebonyi, other States race to access last tranche of $750 million World Bank fiscal transparency grant

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Bauchi, Ebonyi and other States across Nigeria are jostling to access the last tranche of 750 million dollars World Bank supported States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme.

Some of the States who attended SFTAS Workshop organised by the State2State project of the USAID, in Abuja at the weekend, stated that the race is on and all was being done to meet the criteria for disbursement.

Some of the States who benefited from previous tranche of the grant, noted that
States were being awarded for results achieved across disbursements linked indicators (DLIs).

According to them, some of the indicators are, revenue mobilization, accountability
fiscal transparency, expenditure, efficiency, debt sustainability among others.

Mr Muazu Usman, Executive Chairman of Bauchi State Internal Revenue Service, said the state had benefitted immensely from SFTAS.

He noted that, “a lot of disbursement had been made from the State got, adding that it was part of the money available to government for provision of amenities to the people.

“Good governance has improved in the state and this is very key. For instance the budgeting process has a lot of transparency and accountability in it.

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“We also have the audit process, procurement and even revenue generation.

“Also, we have been able to implement our budget realistically and we have been able to provide infrastructure to the people.

“Equally, we have been able to impact positively in the area of education, infrastructure, and other sectors.

Usman said, the issues of accountability, transparency and implementation were being taken seriously.

Mr Musa Maccido, Deputy Accountant General, Ministry of Finance, Sokoto State, said the state emerged first on list that were eligible in 2020 was able to access the sum of N8billion.

Maccido, who is a committee member of SFTAS programme in Sokoto State, pointed out that the state was working hard to maintain the position it had earned and to access more funds.

“Sokoto State won number one last year and we got N8billion Naira from the grant and so far we are on our toes to ensure that we maintain that record.

“There are 13 DLIs that states have to meet to qualify and it ranges from preparation of budget, revenue collection, creating a legal framework for the Auditor-General for state and local government, to procurement process among others.

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“The criteria for accessing this funds is based on the impact the state has made on the people, the state accounting policies that are checked by independent verifiers to find out what you have been doing with their money and how you account for it. That is how you get more money.

“We have met the requirements for creation of legal framework. For instance we have passed the Procurement law, the Fiscal Responsibility law, Revenue law and we have also created a legal framework for the Auditor General of state and local government.

“Every section of finances in the state now has legal backing.”

On projects executed with the funds accessed so far, Maccido said education took a larger part of the money.

He said, “when Tambuwal became governor, his priority was education. There is an emergency on education and these funds are used to ensure that every area of the education sector is treated.

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“So far, new schools are being built, like Science Secondary Schools, old ones are refurbished, teachers are trained and materials are secured for learning.

He expressed optimism that the state would get another tranche from the grant to deploy to areas of need.

Mr Orlando Nweze, Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development Ebonyi State, said the state came fourth in 2019 and was later able to access the sum of 23.5 million dollars, which it deployed to infrastructure.

“We have been applying all the SFTAS DLIs verification protocols.

“In the 2019 appraisal, the state did very well. We came fourth on the ranking of disbursement. From zero to four and we are doing a lot to ensure that this is entrenched into the system for transparency in governance.

“From the grant we got 23.5 million dollars and we are spending it in areas we know we need a lot infrastructural development in.

“So, it cuts across education, and a large sum went into the construction of our airport and medical equipment for the College of Medicine.

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