Cross River State has achieved a total sum of Twenty million, four hundred thousand US Dollars ($20.4M) as a result of scoring 100 per cent for all Fiscal, Transparency and Accountability indicators of the World Bank in the 2020 Fiscal Year.
This was earned after a detailed annual performance assessment of all 36 Nigerian states under the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme.
This grant achievement places Cross River State at the top among the 36 states in the Federation and sets a national record for the fiscal year.
SFTAS is a World Bank funded competitive programme of the federal government which rewards states for meeting specifically set indicators for improved fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainability. The Cross River State SFTAS Steering committee is chaired by the State’s Ministry for Finance and was responsible for the implementation of the SFTAS program in the state over the course of the year.
The Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning is overseeing SFTAS, while the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation acts as the independent verification agent.
The Office of the Auditor General of the Federation conducts the annual performance assessments of the states with some of the most reputable external audit firms in the country.
It could be recalled that an Independent Verification Agent (IVA) delegation from the Federal Government on August, 2020 led by Mrs Isioma Bola-Audu visited Calabar for several days to undertake a comprehensive audit and verification exercise as part of the validating criteria for the World Bank State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme for results. As a result of that exercise, the Cross River State Ministry of Finance secured the sum of $10.4M which has subsequently increased to $20.4 million after Cross River State further scored 100% in the 2020 Additional Finance Annual Performance Assessment (APA) carried out in November 2020.
The report also notes that Cross River State have strengthened its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) collection, implemented biometric registration and verification to reduce payroll fraud; improved its procurement practices for increased transparency and value for money; strengthened its public debt management and fiscal responsibility framework; improved debt sustainability and instituted a more transparent budgeting process over the course of the fiscal year.
Cross River State Commissioner for Finance and Chairman of the State SFTAS Steering Committee, Mr Asuquo Ekpenyong Jr revealed that the independent verification success is a confirmation of Governor Ayade’s commitment to transparency, accountability and fiscal performance. This achievement by the Ayade led administration has set a national record and is indeed an endorsement by the World Bank, the world’s foremost international financial institution.
The commissioner thanked God for the results and stated that it was made possible only through the ever present support and guidance of His Excellency, Sir Ben Ayade.
He further said that the funds will be properly utilized in accordance with the Governor’s vision in the 2021 budget.
He concluded saying “The Cross River SFTAS Steering Committee is made up of the internal revenue service, office of accountant general, budget office, bureau of due process and the debt management office. Heads of these MDAs and their staff played a critical role in the State’s resounding success. We all worked days and nights, on weekends, on holidays and even during the lockdown to achieve these results for and on behalf of the good people of Cross River State.”