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COVID-19: FG gives N67b lift to states

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TO mitigate financial shockwaves arising from the global COVID-19 pandemic on state budgets, the federal government yesterday said it would disburse about N66.5 billion (USD$175 million) to eligible states on the basis of the Amended COVID-19 Responsive 2020 Budget results achievement.

  Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, disclosed this in a statement signed by the Ministry’s Director of Press and Public Relations in Abuja, Mr. Hassan Dodo.

  According to the statement, 35 states are eligible for the disbursement because they complied with the Amended COVID-19 Responsive 2020 Budget which includes standardised budget documentation to enhance clarity, transparency and accessibility.

  “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 accumulation of arrears,” the statement reads.

  Stating that the programme is wholly-financed with a loan amount of $750 million from International Development Association (IDA), a member of World Bank Group, the release explained that each state received the total sum of N1.9 billion equivalent of $5million.

  The disbursement, according to federal government, is under the performance-based grant component of the World Bank-Assisted States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme-for-Results.

  But Rivers State is the only state 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.

  It will be recalled that federal government had earlier in April disbursed over N43, 416,000,000.00 ($120.6 million) to 24 qualified states, based on their performance.

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