The World Bank has announced the approval of a $75million (about N11.25billion) concessional credit facility in support the First Edo State Growth and Employment Support Programme.
The Board of Executive Directors of the bank had last month declared that the credit facility would be in the form of budget support similar to that which was extended to the Lagos State government in 2011.
“The credit was provided in recognition of critical policy and institutional reforms that the Edo State government has undertaken to improve management of public resources in the implementation of an infrastructure-oriented development strategy and creation of a better environment for growth and employment generation through a more conducive investment climate and higher quality of education,” the bank said on Thursday.
“Following the Board’s approval of a similar credit for Lagos State last year, this marks yet another milestone in Nigeria’s path to improving public service delivery through improved governance at state level and therefore contributing to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals,” , the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly said.
“I would like to congratulate the Edo State Government for its commitment towards reforms and would like to urge the authorities to stay the course,” she added.
The bank identified the reforms undertaken by the state government to improve the management of public resources to include the enactment of a public procurement law, sanitizing the payroll through use of biometrics technology for identification, use of an integrated financial management information system for budget management, improving transparency in procurement through the publication of contracts awarded, and strengthening external oversight by clearing the backlog of audited financial statements.
Noting that these policy reforms would ensure value for money in the utilization of public resources, Mrs. Marie-Nelly underscored the significance of reforms, pointing out that they are critical for improving the investment climate focus on establishing a platform for a modern land information system that would be central to the process of streamlining procedures for acquiring property rights.
“An improved business climate is critical to attracting investors to Edo, and hence, to generating growth and creating employment opportunities,” she said, adding that the Edo State government has been working on improving the quality of education to meets the demands and needs of the employment market.
“One key reform undertaken aims at improving governance at institutional level through the establishment of school-based management committees (SBMCs) in technical and vocational education institutions,” she said.
“SBMCs will ensure that communities are involved in school decision-making, that will lead to improved student achievement and other outcomes as the local people demand closer monitoring of school personnel, better student evaluations, a closer match between the school’s needs and its policies, and a more efficient use of resources.
“Edo State Government is also piloting an Education Management Information System to ensure that there is adequate, accurate, and up to date information for planning, monitoring, and implementation of policies and programs for improving the quality of education.
The state governor, Adam Oshiomhole said apart from helping bridge a financing gap for his administration to implement the critical infrastructure projects the state needs to stimulate growth and create employment opportunities, the reforms undertaken by his administration, which has earned it the World Bank’s recognition, would ensure that the state obtains value for money in the utilization of the funds.