January 7, 2021
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By Richard Ndoma, Calabar

Cross River State has been rewarded with the World Bank’s $20.4million grant for meeting up with requirements for the implementation of the state fiscal transparency accountability and sustainability SFTAS programme.

World Bank report released by the federal ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning which supervises the project noted that Cross River State was given the grant after a detailed annual performance assessment of all 36 Nigerian states under SFTAS programme.

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The report stated that two other states in the country which also qualified for the grant include Kwara with a grant prize of $16.9million and Sokoto, $22miloion grant for the SFTAS programme.

Speaking on the issue, a staff in the Auditor General Office of the Federation, Nkenchor Abel, who spoke with our correspondent in Calabar, hailed the Governments of Cross River, Kwara and Sokoto States for meeting up with standard set up by SFTAS to attract the grant.

Nkenchor stressed that Cross River achieved a total sum of $20.4million, scoring almost a 100% for all Fiscal, Transparency and Accountability indicators of the World Bank SFTAS Audit in the 2020 fiscal year.

He said that this was earned after a detailed annual performance assessment of all 36 Nigerian states under the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme.

The grant achievement places Cross River State ahead among the 36 states of the federation and sets a record for the fiscal year.

The issues that got Cross River qualified for the grant include strengthening of its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) collection, implemented biometric verification to reduce payroll fraud, improved procurement practices for increased transparency and value for money.

Others are strengthening of its public debt management and fiscal responsibility framework, improving of  its debt sustainability and institution of a more transparent budgeting process over the course of the fiscal year.

SFTAS, a World Bank funded competitive programme of the federal government, rewards states for achieving specifically set indicators for improved fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainability.

As a tradition, the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning supervises the SFTAS programme, while the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation acts as  independent verification agent that  conducts  annual performance assessments of  states with some of the most reputable external audit firms in the country.

Often times, various steering committees of SFTAS are usually chaired by the state ministry of Finance known to be responsible for implementation of SFTAS programme in state over the course of the year.

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