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World Bank lauds Kogi over transparency, accountability

By Seye Olumide
30 November 2021   |   3:58 am
The World Bank has described the 2020 audited financial report statement of Kogi State as a standard for transparency and accountability in the public sector.

Kogi state governor, Yahaya Bello

The World Bank has described the 2020 audited financial report statement of Kogi State as a standard for transparency and accountability in the public sector.

The bank made the commendation in a letter addressed to the state’s Accountant General in Lokoja.

The correspondence was signed by Deborah Hannah Isser, the States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Programme (SFTAS) Task Team Leader, Nigeria Country Office.

It was titled, ‘Nigeria: Review of Kogi State’s Audited Financial Statements (AFS) for the Year Ended December 31, 2020 for State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability’ (SFTAS).

SFTAS is a $750 million programme to reward states for meeting any or all of nine indicators that demonstrate improvements in fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainability.

The indicators are offshoots of the previous Fiscal Sustainability Plan (FSP) of the Federal Government, where states were to be rewarded for meeting up to 22 targets.

The World Bank had supported the Federal Government to incentivise states to achieve the FSP, which has now been redesigned as Disbursement Linked Indicators under SFTAS.

The criteria to be achieved are improved financial reporting and budget reliability; increased openness and citizens’ engagement in budget process; improved cash management and reduced revenue leakages through implementation of State Treasury Single Account (TSA); strengthened Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) collection; biometric registration and Bank Verification Number (BVN) used to reduce payroll fraud.

Others are improved procurement practices for increased transparency and value for money; strengthened public debt management and fiscal responsibility framework; improved clearance/reduction of the stock of domestic expenditure arrears; and improved debt sustainability.

The SFTAS programme is part of efforts by the Federal Government to further enhance transparency and accountability in the use of public resources through implementation of the Open Government Partnership, which Nigeria signed to in July 2016.

In its letter to the Kogi State Government, the World Bank commended the state for preparing its audited financial statements, in line with accrual basis of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards.

It said: “We note that Kogi State’s AFS for the year ended December 31, 2020 has been uploaded on the state’s website as per the SFTAS’ eligibility criteria for FY21. The financial statements were prepared on International Public Sector Accounting Standards accrual basis and the Auditor General of the State has issued an audit certificate with an unqualified (clean) audit opinion on the General-Purpose Financial Statement (GPFS) and a Special Opinion on SFTAS Programme Expenditure Framework during the period.

“The Bank has reviewed the AFS, and it is found acceptable for SFTAS Programme Fiduciary assurance requirements.”

The World Bank letter is coming about four months after it issued a letter commending Governor Yahaya Bello for good leadership and the refund of a $4.63million surpluses under the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP).

In the letter of appreciation, titled, ‘Refund of Surplus Project Funds to the World Bank under the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) (IDA Credits: 62770, 62780)’, signed by its Regional Director, Shubham Chaudhuri, the Bretton Woods institution asserted that Bello’s action made it possible for the organisation to extend its projects to other states facing deficit funds and closing date on projects.

The latest World Bank letter is also coming about a month after the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) acknowledged the improvement of Kogi State on its ICAN’S Novel Accountability Index (ICAN AI).

The institute said the state moved from 12th to 7th position in its 2019 assessments.

This was made known through the 56th President of the accounting body, Mrs. Comfort Eyitayo, during a visit to Governor Bello.

She added that such improvement was worthy of note and signalled a better ranking in the future. She noted that ICAN AI is a tool for assessing the three tiers of government on their level of adherence to best practices in public finance management, while she appealed that Ministries, Agencies and Departments continue to provide relevant documents for forthcoming assessments.