By Aondowase Agabi
The Kano State Government has said its committed to strengthening fiscal reforms for increased transparency and accountability in line with the ideals encapsulated in the States Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme for Results initiated by the Federal Government supported by the World Bank.
This State Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf stated this at a 5-Day Zonal Workshop for Audit Officers drawn from States and Local Government Auditors General organized by the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation (OAUGF) in collaboration with the SFTAS Programme Unit, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning which commenced on Monday, 10th July, 23 in Kano city, Kano State.
While declaring the Workshop open, the governor who was represented by his Deputy, Comrade Aminu Abdulsalam reiterated the State’s commitment in actualizing the said objective of Transparency, accountability and Sustainability in running the affairs of governance, a statement from Mr..Ibrahim Mohammed, the Communication Specialist, SFTAS, PCU said.
The governor observed that the mainstreaming of ideals of the SFTAS Programme in States public financial management system with significant improvement in Increased Fiscal Transparency and Accountability, Strengthened Domestic Revenue Mobilization, Increased Efficiency in Public Expenditure and
Strengthened Debt Sustainability is a further testimony that the laudable programme has come of age.
He stressed that following the effective implementation of the SFTAS Programme, most of the States in the Federation can now boast of improved procurement practices to enhance value for money and reduce opportunities for corruption and misuse of public resources; automated Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) collection systems so as to increase revenue inflows to the State consolidated Revenue Account; regular submission of comprehensive quarterly debt reports to the DMO on debt stock and debt servicing; passed public debt management laws and fiscal responsibility legislation, which mirrors the Federal Government’s Fiscal Responsibility Act and established fiscal and debt rules as well as limits and responsibilities for contracting States debt with functional State Debt Departments.
“Given the aforementioned development, you would agree with me that SFTAS has come of age with guarantee for its sustainability beyond its stipulated lifespan”.
In order to institutionalize audit reforms at States and Local Government levels, the Governor urged participants to imbibe the lessons learned with a view to deepening audit reforms in their various domains for improved service delivery, transparency and accountability in public financial management system.
Speaking earlier, the SFTAS National Programme Coordinator, Mr. Ali Mohammed disclosed that the objectives of the Train the Trainers’ Workshop were aimed at providing further Technical Assistance (TA) to the States and Local Governments as part of the goals of the SFTAS Programme for Results (PforR) to strengthen the professional capacity of the States and Local Government Auditor-General Offices.
Mr. Mohammed further disclosed that the passage of Audit Laws in about 32 States of the Federation, has led to remarkable gains for the SFTAS Programme which is meant to improve the professional independence of the Offices of the Auditor-General for States and Local Governments adding that the capacity-building programme will further strengthen the professionalism of the state and local government Auditor-General offices.
He told participants that the training, which comprises both concepts and practical interface with field officers using case study exercises and practical experiences has been designed as a Train-the-Trainers (TT) programme that will see selected staff from the Audit Offices return home and pass on the knowledge acquired to their colleagues. “Participants will be exposed to the Financial Audit Methodology (FAM) which will help Auditors through the planning phase to the Execution phase of the Statutory Audit of Financial Statements of State and Local Governments’ Consolidated Financial Statement”.
The National Programme Coordinator observed that the SFTAS Programme for Results which is now in its final year of implementation and sustainability phase, has recorded remarkable improvement in major Public Finance Management laws, budget transparency and citizen participation stating that the end date of the SFTAS Programme which ought to have originally been December, 2022 had been extended twice; first from January, 2023 to 30th June, 2023 and more recently, from 1st July, 2023 to December, 2023.
“The purpose of these extensions is to facilitate further support to the States during the sustainability phase of the SFTAS programme and more importantly, to usher in the States Action on Business Enabling Reforms (SABER) an off-shoot of the SFTAS programme seamlessly”.
Mr. Mohammed explained that the proposed SABER programme seeks to strengthen the business enabling environment in the participating States which will help Nigeria at crowding in sustainable private investment, required to enable the country to achieve its desired development priorities just as it will also contribute to promoting a private sector-led growth strategy.
He further highlighted that a better business enabling environment across the 36 states will also strengthen institutions that can deliver public services and economic opportunities more efficiently and effectively and lowering the costs of doing business. “It will further strengthen the trust between the government and the private sector”.