The Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, has scored states about 69 per cent success in Public Expenditure Reforms ahead of its forthcoming NGF conference on fiscal sustainability.
The Forum said on Sunday the contributions of the various state governors through the reforms they initiated at the subnational level accounted significantly to the country’s economic recovery from recession.
An economist, David Nabena, scored the states high in his presentation when the Fiscal Sustainability Plan, FSP, technical committee met at the Federal Ministry of Finance in Abuja.
“The action point with the highest percentage of implementation is that of Public Expenditure Reform, which recorded 69% success,” Mr. Nabena said.
The FSP committee comprises officials of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and the Federal Ministry of Finance.
The NGF Secretariat has described the FSP framework for the sustenance of state governments in Nigeria, a product of an agreement between federal and state governments, as a strategic game-changer for fiscal governance at the state level.
The Forum said the FSP would improve transparency and accountability, increase public revenue, rationalise public expenditure, improve public finance management and facilitate sustainable debt management.
The spokesperson of the forum, Abdulrazaque Barkindo, said the meeting reviewed the 22 core action points of the FSP from its last workshop in April.
The forum referenced several economists who argued that since most economic activities take place in the states, they may have indirectly assisted the economic recovery the country was witnessing.
However, Mr. Nabena said, more could be done by states to get the country completely out of the economic doldrums.
In his assessment, the economist said other areas with encouraging results included public revenue reforms (63 per cent) and debt management reforms (54 per cent).
“These are laudable goals,” he said. “But above all, it shares a very special affinity with the Open Government Partnership OGP, which carries with it huge financial relief for governments that are able to meet its conditions.
Mr. Nabena said the meeting held to share the findings of the 22 core action points of the FSP from the workshop held in April, as well as acquaint the ministry of the plans of the NGF Secretariat going forward.
During his presentation, Mr. Nabena said about 15 out of the 22 action points of the FSP contained in the states’ self-assessment reports were implemented by most states.
Highlighting the actions with the weakest implementation status, Mr. Nabena lamented that those targeted at accountability and transparency were top.
He explained that even in these two categories, there was about 44 per cent success in implementation, despite that many states found the adoption of international public sector accounting standards IPSAS cumbersome, expensive and challenging.
The NGF Economist regretted that the picture was not all rosy for governance at the subnational level, as many states covered had no consolidated debt service account, or sinking fund.
Specifically, nine states do not have an active and functional website, while seven states have not yet concluded their biometric staff audit.
“Only 16 states have an efficiency unit,” Mr. Nabena said.
In his view, a consultant at the Kaduna Business School accused states of poor management of fiscal and other resources which has exposed them to dire financial straits they find themselves today.
“Funds meant for development have been stolen outright and laws and policies, where they exist, have been ignored. In some states, there is an absence of good fiscal laws,” he said.
The Director, Home Finance at the Finance Ministry, Olubunmi Siyanbola said the figures given by the Forum was not far from that of the consultants deployed by the ministry for the same reason.
Mrs. Siyanbola also disclosed that six consultants have been sent to the different geo-political zones to make a report on the activities of the states around the 22 action points of the FSP and their success stories so far.
She said the way forward would be determined when all the consultants were back from the field with the complete report.
At a glance, the director said the consultants recorded a 42 per cent level of implementation across the 36 states, with 60 per cent score for public expenditure reforms as against 69 per cent from the NGF.
About 56 per cent was recorded for public finance management, PFM, which is the same with what the Forum recorded and 35 per cent level of implementation for public debt as against 54 per cent by the NGF.