This was made known by the Minister of Finance, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, while addressing the 7th Community of Practice (CoP) made up of State Commissioners of Planning and Budgeting, in Abuja, with theme, ‘Achieving Realism in State and Federal Budgets for Effective Service Delivery’, as contained in a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the Minister of Finance on Media and Communications, Paul Ella Abechi.
Ahmed, who was the founder of CoP in September 2016, as then Minister of State for Budget and National Planning was invited to speak on issues concerning the CoP, where she expressed optimism that states will continue with their fiscal responsibility which will serve as platform to access the loan and grant from the World Bank.
The Community of Practice meetings enhance the State Commissioners of Planning and Budget’s capabilities in performing their functions, and serve as platforms for facilitating peer learning and information exchange, strengthening coordination, collaboration and networking.
Issues being 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.
She said: “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 state because at one point states were not able to pay salaries.
“Part of the conditions that was given for those bailouts is a fiscal responsibility plan which needed to be implemented for the state to continue to be qualified to access the funds that the Federal Government was giving.
“This FSP was quite successful because as a result of that we saw improvements in the public financial management in a lot of states, some of which is evident in the increase in the IGR and also the increase in the frequency of the preparation of financial statement in the availability of budget that used to never been found anywhere.
“This year, it was so good that the World Bank said this group has done well and therefore we are going to give $750million in the form of concession loans and grant which will be available soon for the states to access.
“We are in the process of going to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to get the approval; the World Bank on its own has already approved this and others. So we hope that you will continue to implement your fiscal responsibility so that you will qualify for this facility as well as the grant.
“And those principles agreed by NEC are still as relevant today as they were in 2016. So I want to urge the CoP to ensure that the monitoring aspect of this is still continuing in one way or the other.”
She also charged the CoP to make monitoring of the process of implementation of budget as cardinal, because it would benefit and enhance what they are 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 process improvement, it will also help us to refocus ourselves as well as our principles to stay on those commitments that are made, but most importantly it will enhance public service delivery to the citizens”, she stated.