By Emma Una
THE Cross River State government will receive a $20.4 million grant from the World Bank’s States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability, SFTAS, programme.
The Commissioner for Finance, Mr Asuquo Ekpenyong Jnr told Vanguard in his office on Friday that the money would be ploughed into the implementation of the state’s 2021 budget which has emphasis on job creation for the youths.
“It was strenuous but we met the eligibility criteria for the 2019 programme and the state was pre-qualified for the detailed annual performance assessment of all qualified Nigerian states under the programme”.
Ekpenyong said the assessment exercise for pre-qualification was carried out in September 2020 by the World Bank’s Independent Verification Assessor, IVA, from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation and the result showed that Cross River State achieved six out of the nine Disbursement Linked Indicators, DLRs, which were applicable in the 2019 benchmark and three out of three in the 2020 DLRs which was one hundred per cent.
According to him, the strengthening of the state’s Internally Generated Revenue collection, implementation of biometric verification to stem payroll fraud, improved procurement practices for increased transparency, strengthening of its public debt management and fiscal responsibility framework, improved debt sustainability and institution of a more transparent budgeting during the course of the budgeting year shot the state into the third position across states in the country to benefit from the grant.
“The STFAS programme is a product of mutual agreement between the Federal Government of Nigeria and World Bank designed to strengthen the fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainability in Nigerian states as a way of improving their revenue base, increasing fiscal transparency in public expenditure and reducing debt overhang”
He commended Senator Ben Ayade for the support which gave Steering Committee the wherewithal to achieve the needed bench mark.