35 states get FG’s N66.5bn for amended COVID-19 responsive 2020 budget

Federal Government on Wednesday said it disbursed N66.5billion (USD$175 million) to 35 eligible states on the basis of the Amended COVID-19 Responsive 2020 Budget results achievement.

Rivers is the only state that missed out due to its inability to meet the eligibility criteria requiring states to have passed and published online on a state’s website by July 31, 2020, credible, fiscally responsible COVID-19 Responsive Amended 2020 Budgets duly approved by the State House of Assembly and assented to by the State Governor.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed who disclosed this in a statement from the ministry explained that the programme was wholly-financed with a loan amount of $750 million from the International Development Association (IDA), a member of the World Bank Group.

Each state received N1.9bn, which is the equivalent of $5million.

The disbursement is, according to her, under the performance-based grant component of the World Bank-Assisted States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme-for-Results.

According to Ahmed, the Amended 2020 State Budget must also include standardised budget documentation to enhance clarity, transparency and accessibility.

“It must also significantly lower the gross statutory revenue projections – consistent with the revised medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) and federal government’s budget; reduced non-essential overhead and capital expenditures.”

“The budget must be tagged and found to have allocated at least 10 per cent of the total expenditure of the amended budget for COVID-19 relief, restructuring and recovery programs; and identified credible sources to fully finance the budget deficit to avoid an accumulation of arrears.”

Ahmed stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated economic and fiscal shocks have put significant pressure on States’ fiscal resources and undermined the reality and credibility of the States’ original 2020 Annual Budgets.

The Minister expressed optimism that the achievement of results by the 35 out of 36 States would further strengthen the national fiscal response to COVID-19 and align efforts at both the federal and state-levels.

She noted that the World Bank-assisted SFTAS Programme is principally meant to strengthen fiscal management at the state level, so as to ensure effective mobilisation and utilisation of financial resources to the benefit of the citizens in a transparent, accountable and sustainable manner, thereby reducing fiscal risks and encouraging a common set of fiscal behaviours.

It would be recalled that the federal government had earlier in April 2020 of N43,416,000,000.00 or $120.6 million to the qualified 24 States, based on their performance.

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NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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