Rivers misses out as FG disburses N66.5bn World Bank COVID-19 grant to states
The federal government has disbursed N66.5 billion to 35 eligible states on the basis of the amended COVID-19 responsive 2020 budget results achievement.
According to a statement by Hassan Dodo, director of press at the ministry of finance, budget and national planning, Rivers was the only state that missed out of the grant due to its inability to meet the required criteria to publish its COVID-19 response amended budget.
The ministry explained that each state received N1.9 billion ($5 million).
The programme is wholly-financed with a $750 million loan from the International Development Association (IDA).
Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget and national planning, said the disbursement is under the performance-based grant component of the World Bank assisted states fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainability (SFTAS) programme for results.
“Rivers State is the only one that missed out on the grant due to its inability to meet the eligibility criteria which required the states to have passed and published online on a state’s website by July 31, 2020, credible, fiscally responsible COVID-19 responsive amended 2020 budgets duly approved by the state house of assembly and assented to by the state governor,” the statement read.
“It must also significantly lower the gross statutory revenue projections, consistent with the revised medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) and federal government’s budget; reduced non-essential overhead and capital expenditures.
“The budget must be tagged and found to have allocated at least 10 percent of the total expenditure of the amended budget for COVID-19 relief, restructuring and recovery programs; and identified credible sources to fully finance the budget deficit to avoid the accumulation of arrears.”
Ahmed said the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant economic shocks have put significant pressure on states’ fiscal resources and undermined the reality and credibility of the states’ original 2020 annual budgets.
The minister expressed optimism that the fund will strengthen Nigeria’s fiscal response to COVID-19 and align efforts at the federal and state levels.
The federal government had earlier, in April 2020, disbursed N43.4 billion ($120.6 million) to 24 states, based on their performance.