USAID’s accountability, transparency, project has increased effective service delivery in states, says NGF


THE  U.S. Agency for International Development(USAID) State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) project has increased accountability, transparency and effective services delivery in states.

Dr Kayode Fayemi, Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) said this on Tuesday at the SFTAS State2State Activity  Federal Policy Dialogue 1.0  themed “State Fiscal Transparency ,Accountability and Sustianability (SFTAS)in Abuja .

Fayemi, represented by  NGF deputy, Gov.  Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto, commended USAID for the initiative .

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that (USAID) launched the  State Accountability, and Effectiveness (State2State) Activity to strengthen subnational governance systems through reforms in six key states across Nigeria.

The five-year, 72 million dollars State2State Activity aimed at  improving how states plan , budget, raise revenues, increase civil society participation, and oversee service delivery in the health; education; and water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sectors.

The activity started  operations in Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Gombe and Sokoto states and later expand to others.

Fayemi said states have  undertaken  some empowerment and worked with various stakeholders  to strengthen fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainability to implement these  reforms.

“The  recognition of our role as critical stakeholders for service delivery and the consequential  resolve to  support our fiscal systems and processes to become strong enablers for effective ,efficient governance has brought about the successes we are celebrating today.

” The SFTAS programme built on the successes and lessons from the implementation of fiscal sustainability plan and the Open Government Partnership agenda.

“The programme was collectively designed, taking into consideration priority  reforms from various  government reforms programmes , need for incentives and scalability , providing technical assistance  and partnerships to state and non state actors.

“You will recall that beyond the initial  financing of 700 million dollars dollars in performance for results, the World Bank has  injected additional 750 million dollars in performance for results. “

Fayemi also  thanked the Federal Government for extending the performance for initiative as  grants to  states.

He said that this was a major incentive in getting states started and making investment towards related reforms.

“For example, several states made investments in form of performance, technology  to drive coordination, virtual engagement , committee’s activities, technologies to drive fiscal reforms like e- procurement, tax appreciation among others.

“Today ,there is  greater  and more citizens  participation in the process,  fiscal document published in  friendly versions.

“The practice of fiscal transparency and accountability has continued beyond performance years under SFTAS  showing our commitment to sustain these reforms beyond the programme,” he said.

Fayemi listed the linkage of the BVN data  to at least 90 per cent civil servants and pensioners to reduce payroll fraud, procurement laws ,passage of state debt laws to strengthen states debt management practices among others .

He listed others to include passage of consolidated revenue codes to harmonise taxes, fees, levies, charges and fines ,passage of  audit laws guaranteeing financial and operational autonomy to  the office of the auditor  general for state and local government.

Mr Hugh Brown, State2State Chief of Party ,said that having worked at the state level , today’s event was  the inaugural federal policy dialogue series.

Brown said that the event was aimed at discussing  practical, relevant issues around incentivising reforms to which actions would  be assigned to move forward and addressing the primary objective of the state to state activity.

He said that much  of the work of the project, engaged in Borno and Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi Ebonyi, Gombe and Sokoto  have complemented the work of the World Bank SFTAS programme.

He said that this has helped  states to develop and operationalise work process at the forefront to earn funding that could be applied to improve public service delivery .

He listed the services to include basic education, primary health care ,water sanitation and hygiene, also known as wash.

“Today’s federal policy dialogue series is the commencement of state to state more formal engagement at the federal level, working with respective institutions and organisations.

“This is  to help create a more favourable enabling environment where states and LGA areas can further improve operations regarding planning, budgeting, procurement, and revenue generation to benefit the people of Nigeria,” he said.

Mr Daniel Morris, Deputy Director, Peace and Democratic Governance Office ,USAID ,said that State2 State is one of USAID’s flagship governance activities worldwide.

Morris said that it served  as a model for other USAID offices around the world interested in learning how to enact effective state reforms.

According to him, state to State focuses on improving how governments can more effectively use available resources while fostering equitable opportunities for all citizens.

“This includes ,women, persons with disabilities, youth and other marginalised groups to help them become actively involved in the democratic governments.

“I have been encouraged to hear about the early progress states have made on reforms.

“This progress promises to reduce waste of scarce resources and to enable more to be devoted to such critical areas like basic education, primary health care, water and sanitation and hygiene services.

“I was pleased to learn that since last year, all six of the currently participating partner states use a more inclusive and transparent budgeting process exemplified in medium term expenditure framework and the full application of the national Charter of Accounts,” he said.

Morris said that State2State would be reaching out to more states soon to provide opportunities for governments to partner with USAID.

He also said that USAID would continue to partner with states  to develop and sustain reforms to improve governance so that the  quality of lives would  continue to improve.(NAN)