Public finance experts and business analysts have urged various state governors to focus more on Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) than to be relying on the Federal Government monthly allocation to fund their states.
They also urged them to be transparent in their fiscal activities and accountable to people.
This was a summation at a monthly round table organised by the Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies (CIAPS) in Lagos and tagged, “Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability of Nigerian States.”
The event, hosted by CIAPS’ Graduate School and connected virtually via Zoom platform had participants from across the federation and outside Nigeria, discussed how Nigerian states were doing in terms of budgeting, revenue, debt management and fiscal responsibility.
Lead discussants at the event chaired by Professor Anthony Kila, CIAPS’ centre director, included Ayo Teriba, CEO Economic Associates, Phillip Isakpa, Executive Director Businessnewscorp; Yemi Kolapo, Editor-In-Chief, The Point Newspaper, and Rotimi Olarewaju a financial analyst.
Making his presentation, Ayo Teriba disagreed with the general concept introduced by Prof Anthony Kila that many Nigerian states were not financially viable, saying such a claim is untenable.
According to him, every state in Nigeria has the potential for being viable, it is just about having the right leadership that can identify how to generate wealth.
Teriba noted that too little is being done by states to generate investments and that none among the 36 states, for example, has a portal dedicated to attracting and guiding investors.
He listed the economy, natural capital, human capital and governance as the four areas that the states need to push on to generate substantial revenue for themselves rather than waiting for oil money from the centre.
On his part, Mr Philip Isakpa noted that generally speaking, so many individuals and businesses are focused too much on the Federal Government instead of looking at what the state governments are doing.
While calling on all to get more involved in activities of state government, he said the tying of grants to fiscal responsibility of a state is a good move.
He said this was good because citizens and businesses would be able to know and access states that were doing well and those which were not.
In her own presentation, Ms Yemi Kolapo, sounded a note of caution, warning that while the performance conditioned grant was a good thing, we should be careful to make sure that states are actually doing good things and they are not just working the books to get funds.
Making reference to the federal government N123.34 billion performance-based grant disbursed early January to eligible states under the World Bank-supported states fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainability (SFTAS) programme, she said the policy though good, needs great caution.
That states publishing online their approved annual budgets and audited financial statements within a specific time frame is not enough according to her to measure performance.
Experts urge governors to focus on IGR, not federal allocation