Nigerian states to access World Bank’s $750mn grant – Official

President Buhari and state governors
President Buhari and state governors

The federal government says the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) will soon access World Bank’s $750 million grant.

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this at the 7th Community of Practice (CoP) for State Commissioners of Planning and Budgeting, in Abuja, with theme, ‘Achieving Realism in State and Federal Budgets for Effective Service Delivery.’

Mrs Ahmed, who found CoP in September 2016, as then Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, was invited to speak on issues concerning the group.

She expressed optimism that states will continue with their fiscal responsibility to serve as a platform to access the loan and grant from the World Bank.

The Community of Practice meetings, she said, enhances the state commissioners of planning and budget’s capabilities in performing their functions, and serves as platforms for facilitating peer learning and information exchange, strengthening coordination, collaboration and networking.

Issues being discussed at the 7th CoP meeting include expanding the forum beyond the current membership to include the minister of finance and commissioners of finance from states for better coordination and planning, budget and public finances.

She said: “During the course of these meetings we had the benefit of hosting the World Bank and several other opportunities, including the Governors’ Forum,” the minister said in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES.

“During the course of this exercise, the Ministry of Finance had to on instruction from the President provide bailouts to the state because at one point states were not able to pay salaries.”

Part of the conditions given for those bailouts, the minister explained, is a fiscal responsibility plan which need to be implemented for the states to continue to be qualified to access the funds that the federal government was giving.

The FSP, she noted, was quite successful because of improvements in the public financial management in a lot of states, some of which is evidenced in the increase in internally generated revenue and increase in the frequency of the preparation of financial statements in budgets.

This year, she said, it was so good that the World Bank acknowledged what the group has done by approving about $750mn in the form of concession loans and grants that will be available soon for the states to access.

She said the loans and grants are in the process of going to the Executive Council Federation (FEC) for approval.

She said the World Bank has already approved the grant and others, while government expects the states will continue to implement their fiscal responsibility to qualify them for this facility as well as the grant.

According to the minister, the principles agreed by NEC on the operations of the group were still as relevant as they were in 2016.

She urged the CoP to ensure the monitoring aspect of the principles still continue.

She charged the CoP to make monitoring of the process of implementation of budget a cardinal principle, because it would benefit and enhance what they are doing to improve the standard of living of the people in their states.

“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,” she stated.

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