States back FG on probe of bailout spending

States back FG on probe of bailout spending
Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun

 The decision of the Federal Government to audit the utilisation of the N510bn stimulus package that was disbursed to states last year has received the backing of the commissioners for finance of the 36 states of the federation.

The endorsement was confirmed by the Chairman, Forum of Finance Commissioners of the Federation Account Allocation Committee, Mahmoud Yunusa.

Yunusa, while speaking during an interview in Abuja on the sidelines of this month’s FAAC meeting, said the states would cooperate with the audit firms appointed by the government to carry out the exercise.

The Federal Government had last month appointed eight accounting firms to evaluate the rate of compliance by state governments with the implementation of the Fiscal Sustainability Plan, which they signed onto in June last year.

A total of 35 states signed onto the plan, with Lagos being the only one that backed out of the agreement.

The appointment of the firms was confirmed by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, through a statement issued by the Director of Information in the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Salisu Dambatta.

The eight accounting firms are PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG Professional Services, Ernst & Young, PKF Professional Services, Muhtari Dangana & Co., S. S. Afemikhe & Co., Ahmed Zakari & Co., and Ijewere & Co.

The FSP is a condition given by the Federal Government before it commenced the disbursement of the N510bn budget support facility to the states to enable them pay their workers’ salaries.

Before the conditional loan was released by the Federal Government, about 27 states were unable to pay the salaries of their workers.

Reacting to the development, Yunusa said the scarcity of resources to implement the programmes of government owing to the economic recession had made it imperative for the states to be prudent and transparent in the area of financial management.

He said, “The plan of the Federal Government to audit the fiscal sustainability plan of the states is welcome. It is welcome because we have nothing to hide in the states. The resources are no longer there; and so, whatever resources that we have must be effectively, transparently and judiciously used for the benefit of the people.

“The expectations of the people are very high and the resources are very lean day-by-day; and so, we have to add value to the people. People are clamouring for change and we have to look for a way to ensure that the lives of people are changed.”

Yunusa pledged that the states would work with the Federal Government to address the current recession in the country.

Yunusa, who is the Commissioner for Finance in Adamawa State, said the target of the states now was to generate enough revenue internally to pay salaries.

He gave an assurance that once this was done, whatever allocation received from the Federation Account would be used by the states for capital projects.

He said, “The recession is a problem but we should see it as a blessing in disguise, because before now, all the states relied solely on the Federal Government; but now, because the money is no longer there, we are now forced to look inward for the opportunities and potential in our respective states and how to exploit them.

“We have to reduce the cost of governance and plug all the loopholes in our expenditure. This problem has helped us to look at our revenue and restructure our expenditure to fit into the realities that we have on the ground.”

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