By Nasiru Yusuf Tsakuwa
The national secretariat of Open Government Partnership (OGP) has said that the implementation of State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) has significantly improved good governance at state level.
An official of OGP, Tari Wills revealed this yesterday at a two-day learning and sensitisation meeting for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and citizens’ participation in participatory budgeting through the SFTAS programme.
She recalled that: “As at 2018, when the programme first started, we have about only four states implementing budget on their websites, but today as at the last time Annual Performance Assessment report we have over 15 state governments.
“Progressively, we are seeing impact and we are seeing changes. We are hoping that by next year, when the programme is coming to an end, these governments that started these reforms would be able to continue and sustain it beyond the time limit.”
She charged CSOs to ensure the sustainability of the reforms by asking right questions and making demands. According to her, the objective of the programme is, if CSOs know what government is publishing, they can use such document to hold government accountable.
“For instance, on the budget circle, we are telling them that government will hold public consultation, and they have to be actively involved in this public consultation and budget process. “They have to ask right questions. They have to use citizens’ budget to train other citizens who are not part of the public consultation to ask right questions to further hold government accountable and to ensure service delivery is actually improved through this process,” said her.
In his remarks, the PERL-ECP State Facilitator, Malam Yunusa Hamza, said the training was intended to empower citizens, academic, traditional rulers and journalists on how to engage government to ensure it accesses SFTAS grant.
“One good thing about this, it will improve the economic status of the state, because this is a grant coming to the state without doing much.
“On governance, it will fill some gaps in our reform process, because the fiscal financial management process has to be inclusive.
“What we are saying by inclusive, citizens group need to be involved. People need to be involved. People need to know, because these services are meant for them. “One good thing is, government is doing a lot, and citizens are not aware.
So we want bridge this gap,” Hamza emphasized. State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability And Sustainability (SFTAS) is a World Bank-assisted Programme that seeks to promote public sector accountability and reduce corruption.
The SFTAS Programme was established by the Federal Government with the concessional World Bank loan to support states to enhance their capacity to achieve the Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs), which are the programme results.
The DLIs are derived from the country’s 22-Point Fiscal Sustainability Plan and the 14 Open Government Partnership (OGP) commitments aimed at strengthening fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainability across all states of the federation.
The programme was principally to strengthen fiscal management at the state level, so as to ensure effective mobilization and utilization of financial resources, to the benefit of their citizens in a transparent, accountable and sustainable manner, thereby reducing fiscal risks and encouraging a common set of fiscal behaviours.
The DLIs aimed at: improved financial reporting and budget reliability; increased openness and citizens’ engagement in the budget process; improved cash management and reduced revenue leakages through the implementation of State Treasury Single Account (TSA); strengthened Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) collection; biometric registration and Bank Verification Number (BVN) used to reduce payroll fraud.
Others are improved procurement practices for increased transparency and value for money; strengthened public debt management and fiscal responsibility framework; improved clearance/reduction of the stock of domestic expenditure arrears; and improved debt sustainability.
The 24 beneficiary states are: Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Ondo, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Sokoto, Taraba and Yobe States.
In 2020, Kaduna State achieved the highest number of results (nine) and got the highest share with N3. 960 billion, while Katsina and Benue got the lowest amount of N540 million each.