The World Bank’s $750 million loan and grant would soon be disbursed to Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has said.
Ahmed unveiled the package at the 7th Community of Practice (CoP), made up of State Commissioners of Planning and Budgeting, with the theme, “Achieving Realism in State and Federal Budgets for Effective Service Delivery.”
Ahmed, who founded CoP in September 2016, as the then Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, was optimistic that states would continue with their fiscal responsibility plan which would serve as a platform to access the loan and grant from the World Bank.
“During the course of these meetings, we had the benefit of hosting the World Bank and several other opportunities including the Governors’ Forum.
“During the course of this exercise, the ministry of finance had to, on instruction from the President, provide bailouts to the states because at one point states were not able to pay salaries.
“Part of the conditions that was given for those bailouts was a fiscal responsibility plan which needed to be implemented for the states to continue to be qualified to access the funds that the Federal Government was giving.
“This plan was quite successful because as a result of that we saw improvements in the public financial management in a lot of states,” Ahmed said in a statement by Mr Paul Abechi, her Special Adviser on Media and Communications.
The minister said some of the improvements in the states were evident in the increase in the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and the increase in the frequency of the preparation of financial statement which was not so before.
“This year, it was so good that the World Bank said this group had done well and therefore will give 750 million dollars in the form of concession loans and grant which will be available soon for the states to access.
“We hope that you will continue to implement your fiscal responsibility plan so that you will qualify for this facility and the grant,” she said.
She said the principles agreed to by the National Executive Council (NEC) were still as relevant as they were in 2016.
She charged the CoP to make monitoring of the process of implementation of budget cardinal, because it would benefit and enhance what they were 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 improvement, it will also help us to refocus ourselves and our principles to stay on those commitments that are made.
“But most importantly it will enhance public service delivery to the citizens,” she further said.
The CoP meetings enhance the Commissioner’s capabilities in performing their functions, and serve as platforms for facilitating peer learning and information exchange, strengthening coordination, collaboration and networking.
Issues 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 of planning, budget and public finances.