The Federal Government has said that 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory will soon access the World Bank’s $750m loan and grant facility.
This was made known by the Minister of Finance, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, while addressing the 7th Community of Practice made up of State Commissioners of Planning and Budgeting, in Abuja.
The theme of the event was “Achieving realism in state and federal budgets for effective service delivery.”
A statement issued by the Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Paul Abechi, quoted the minister as expressing optimism that states would continue with their fiscal responsibility which would serve as a platform to access the loan and grant from the World Bank.
The Community of Practice meetings enhance the State Commissioners of Planning and Budget’s capabilities in performing their functions and serve as platforms for facilitating peer learning and information exchange, strengthening coordination, collaboration and networking.
Issues discussed at the 7th CoP meeting included expanding the forum beyond the current membership to include the Minister of Finance and Commissioners of Finance from states for better coordination of planning, budget and public finances.
She said, “During the course of the meetings, we had the benefit of hosting the World Bank and several other opportunities including the Governors’ Forum.
“During the course of this exercise, the Ministry of Finance had to, on the instruction from the President, provide bailouts to the state because at one point states were not able to pay salaries.
“Part of the conditions that were given for those bailouts is a fiscal responsibility plan which needed to be implemented for the states to continue to be qualified to access the funds that the Federal Government was giving.
“The FSP was quite successful because as a result of that, we saw improvements in the public financial management in a lot of states, some of which is evident in the increased IGR and also the increase in the frequency of the preparation of financial statement in the availability of budget that used to never been found anywhere.
“This year, it was so good that the World Bank said this group had done well and, therefore, we are going to give $750m in the form of concession loans and grant which will be available soon for the states to access.
She added, “We are in the process of going to the Federal Executive Council to get the approval; the World Bank on its own has already approved this and others.
“So we hope that you will continue to implement your fiscal responsibility so that you will qualify for this facility as well as the grant.
“And those principles agreed by NEC are still as relevant today as they were in 2016. So I want to urge the CoP to ensure that the monitoring aspect of this is still continuing in one way or the other.”
She also charged the CoP to make monitoring of the process of the implementation of the budget as cardinal because it would benefit and enhance what they were doing to improve the standard of living of the people in their states.
She said, “Let me add that the need for monitoring is beneficial because it will enhance process improvement; it will also help us to refocus ourselves as well as our principles to stay on those commitments that are made, but most importantly it will enhance public service delivery to the citizens.”