Appraising World Bank’s $750m SFTAS Programme For States

The State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme for Results is a product of mutual agreement between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the World Bank designed to strengthen the Fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainability in Nigerian States as a way of improving their revenue base, increasing fiscal efficiency in public expenditure and reducing debt overhang.

Thus, the SFTAS Programme aims to significantly improve outcomes of participating states in 4 key results (KRA’s): Increase Fiscal Transparency and Accountability; Strengthen Domestic Revenue Mobilization; Increase Efficiency in Public Expenditure and Strengthen Debt Sustainability. It is envisaged to provide performance –based grants and technical assistance to states to implement the 22 point Fiscal Sustainability Plan (FSP) and the Open Government Partnership (OGP) commitments over the next 4 years (2018-2022).

The USD 750 Million IDA credit facility extended to the Nigeria Government by the World Bank and endorsed by the National Economic Council in March 2018 is billed to take off by the end of 2018. Already, all the 36 state governments have submitted written expressions of interest to the Federal Ministry of Finance to participate in the programme.

The rationale behind the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme is informed by the current serious fiscal challenges faced by the states with many unable to pay backlog of salary arrears of  several months due to poor fiscal governance occasioned by high cost of governance, profligacy poor revenue drive amongst others.

It is instructive to note that most states with the exception of a few have weak fiscal transparency and accountability structure characterized by unpublished budgets & financial statements, lack of timely budget implementation reports, very high budget deviation (between 30% to 55%) and their Citizens are never engaged in the budget process. State Executives believe they are not accountable to the citizens and hence do not need their input in major policy decision-making processes particularly budget processes where everybody is kept in the dark. It is only the media and the civil society and sometimes social media activists who on behalf of the citizens can hold leaders accountable usually at a great cost to themselves and their families.

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