The Federal Government has urged States to deepen fiscal transparency and accountability in public financial management system to improve good fiscal governance at the sub-national level.
Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Aliyu Ahmed, at the meeting of the National Steering Committee of the States’ Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme for Results, expressed the imperative of instilling a common set of fiscal behaviour and standards in the States.
Ahmed encouraged widespread adoption of good practices in fiscal and public financial management across the States, while respecting their fiscal autonomy; strengthened fiscal transparency by improving overall budget transparency and accountability to help build trust in government.
He said the SFTAS programme was meant to improve procurement practices to enhance value for money and reduce opportunities for corruption and misuse of public resources.
In turn, the benefits are increasing efficiency of public expenditure; strengthened fiscal sustainability through increased efficiency in spending, strengthened revenue mobilisation and debt sustainability to prevent further fiscal crises.
In her contribution, the Secretary, Joint Tax Board (JTB), Aishat Obomeghie, advised States to take bold and courageous steps in automating their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) collection systems, so as to increase revenue inflows to the State consolidated Revenue Account.
She disclosed that at the moment, only the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and 17 States out of the 36 States of the Federation have fully automated their IGR.
According to Obomeghie, the States that have so far automated their IGR include the following: Abia, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Edo, Ekiti, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo and Taraba States.
On her part, the Director General, Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha, observed that more than two-third of States now submit comprehensive quarterly debt reports to the DMO on debt stock and debt servicing.
Oniha added that two-third of States have passed public debt management laws and fiscal responsibility legislation, which mirrors the Federal Government’s Fiscal Responsibility Act.
The DG further disclosed that the States have also established fiscal and debt rules as well as limits and responsibilities for contracting States debt with functional State Debt Departments.
Chairman Commissioners of Finance Forum, and Benue State Commissioner of Finance, Dr. David Olofu, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, commended the Federal Government’s fiscal intervention that bailed out most States of the Federation from financial distress, especially during the period of economic recession and the recent COVID-19 pandemic.