States Scored 69% in Public Expenditure Reforms, Says NGF

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By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum Secretariat (NGFS) has said its assessment has recorded 69 per cent success in Public Expenditure Reforms being implemented by governments at the sub-national level. 

Ahead of its forthcoming NGF conference on fiscal sustainability scheduled to hold in November 2017, the NGF said state governors’ contribution to the nation’s economic recovery has been tremendous.

In a statement issued yesterday by the Head of Media and Public Affairs, Abulrazque Barkindo, the forum said the disclosure was made in a presentation by an economist at the NGFS, Mr. David Nabena, when the FSP technical committee met at the Federal Ministry of Finance in Abuja

“Thanks to governors and their reforms at the subnational level, there is a 69 per cent success in Public Expenditure Reforms being implemented by governments at the subnational level,” it said.

 According to NGF, economists adjudged that this feat by the states may have contributed immensely to the quick turnaround of the national economy which wriggled itself out of recession much faster than the public had expected.

The FSP committee comprises of officials of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and the Federal Ministry of Finance. 

The statement explained  that Fiscal Sustainability Plan, the framework for the sustenance of state governments in Nigeria, which is a product of an agreement between federal and state governments, 

The FSP seeks to improve transparency and accountability, increase public revenue, rationalise public expenditure, improve public finance management and facilitate sustainable debt management.

It said the meeting was to review the 22 core action points of the FSP from its last workshop held in April.

According to the NGFS findings, “the action point with the highest percentage of implementation is that of Public Expenditure Reform, which recorded 69 per cent success, the NGFS Economist, Nabena disclosed. Several economists have argued that since most economic activities take place in the states, they might have indirectly assisted the economic recovery that the nation is now celebrating.

However, Nabena still believes more can be done by states to get the country out of the doldrums. Others with encouraging results according to him were public revenue reforms 63 per cent and 54 per cent for debt management reforms.

Nabena noted that the purpose of the meeting was to share findings of the 22 core action points of the FSP from the workshop held in April, as well as acquaint the ministry of the plans of the NGF Secretariat going forward. 

During his presentation, Nabena noted that around 15 out of the 22 action points of the FSP have been implemented by most States, stating however that, this finding was contained in the states’ self-assessment reports.

He also highlighted the actions with the weakest implementation status, among which Nabena lamented were those targeted at accountability and transparency. Even here, Nabena explained, there is light at the end of the tunnel because there is a 44% success in implementation despite the fact that many states find the adoption of IPSAS cumbersome, expensive and challenging.

In conclusion, the NGF Economist regretted that the picture is not all rosy for governance at the subnational level. 

In many states that work was conducted, Nabena stated that there is no consolidated debt service account or sinking fund.  Nine states do not have an active and functional website, seven states have not yet concluded their biometric staff audit, and up to 31 states have recorded success in the internal audit of their accounts. “Only 16 states” Nabena added, “have an efficiency unit.”

Responding, the Director, Home Finance in the finance ministry, Mrs. Olubunmi Siyanbola, congratulated the Forum for the brilliant and thorough work that they had done and also added that the figures given by the forum is not far from that of the consultants they deployed for the same reason.

Olubunmi Siyanbola also disclosed that six consultants have been sent to the different geo-political zones to make a report on the activities of the states around the 22 action points of the FSP and their success stories so far.