The Nation

Evidence of utilisation now basis for release of funds

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By Nduka CHIEJINA, (Assistant Editor)

The federal government is to reintroduce cash management function into the nation’s budgeting process.

What this means is that in-year budget monitoring and evaluation (M&E) results will inform fund releases on a real time basis.

Going forward, future budget projections will be guided by evidence of funds utilisation.

All these revelations were made by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, in her remark at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) 2020 Virtual Leaders Summit Roundtable on Open Recovery.

Mrs Ahmed noted that “this will ensure conversion of liquidity into the achievement of outputs and outcomes”.

She stated that government will use “tax expenditure statement as a key reporting tool on the Nigerian tax system, providing estimated cost of the main tax expenditures in a year in terms of revenue forgone.”

Aside from the budgetary reform, Ahmed disclosed that the federal government is developing a rapid response register (RRR) to quickly scale up the enrolment of poor and vulnerable citizens mainly in urban areas.

Ahmed stated that poor and the vulnerable Nigerians are to potentially benefit from cash transfers to cushion the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

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According to her, “data for the register are being sourced through primary and secondary sources, including the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS) and the National Communication Commission (NCC) database on mobile phone users”.

To ensure transparency and to mitigate risks of corruption, the finance minister said that “payments would be made directly to the accounts of the individuals using their bank verification numbers (BVN)”.

Ahmed noted that government’s “response to the COVID-19 pandemic under the leadership of Mr. President has been proactive, people-oriented and aimed at averting drastic economic decline and protecting our most vulnerable citizens”.

The finance minister added that a key priority for government is “deploying funds transparently and in a targeted and efficient manner that maximises the impact, in keeping with the government’s commitment under OGP national action plan”.

On the importance of targeted interventions, Ahmed said: “the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the critical importance of targeted interventions that have built in safegurds to ensure transparency, accountability, prevent corruption and ultimately strenghten the social contract between governments and citizens”.

She said: “Nigeria joins OGP and other member countries in promoting a global response that is underpinned by the principle of accountability, transparency and inclusiveness which ensures citizen-centred and sustainable recovery”.

“This is especially important given our limited fiscal space and low domestic revenues,” she said.

The minister noted that “in addition to existing OGP measures around budgeting, citizens’ engagement, open contracting, anti-corruption and others, we have introduced measures to sustainability, enhanced fiscal prudence and transparency”.

She said: “Government is coming up with the establishment of a technology-enabled result-based performance management framework to track expenditures under the ESP, including the fiscal stimulus package and other government interventions”.

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