Kogi State Governor, Mr Yahaya Bello, at the weekend, gave reasons why his administration won several World Bank awards on transparency and budget management in its various assessments of Nigerian sub nationals.
Bello who spoke at the closing ceremony of the 3rd edition of Governor Yahya Bello annual seminar for journalists in Abuja, Friday said efficient and transparent management of the state’s public finance to deliver dividends of democracy to the people had remained the hallmark of his administration since inception in 2016, paving way for the awards and recognitions it earned from the Brittonwood’ institution.
In a presentation by the state’s Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Asiru Idris, titled “Reduction of Debt Burden, Transparency and Accountability in Governance: The Kogi Success Story”, said the government’s transactions and financial activities for every preceding quarter were always available online for all stakeholders to access in line with the administration’s transparency agenda.
According to him, achieving over 82.7 percent debt reduction from N71.6billion to N59.3billion between 2016 and 2021 was among the factors that earned the state a grant of $4million for transparency in the first instance and another $5million grant for quality budget preparation from the World Bank making the state a pacesetter in public finance management in Nigeria.
Satisfied by his government’s efficient debt management strategies, Bello said the World Bank subsequently approved N93.66billion borrowing window for the state.
The Governor said these milestones were achieved through his people centred strategies focusing on town hall meetings to create a Citizens Budget out of every annual budget, preparation of quarterly budget performance and one that is well managed.
“Since the inception of the administration of Alhaji Yahaya Bello, deliberate policies have been entrenched for good governance in the state through transparency and accountability and reduction in the debt burden of the state.
The debt reduction strategies adopted by the administration include: Establishment of Treasury Single Account (TSA) to reduce states reliance on Commercial Bank Loans
• Creating proper budgetary procedure
• Offset of State’s most expensive Loan
• Good Debt Management Strategy
• Debt consolidation or debt buy back
• Reduction of Expenditure
• Debt restructuring; reducing the interest rates and extending the tenor.
• Arrears clearance framework; prioritizing of Arrears, Upgrading the government financial management information systems and Improved revenue generation through blocking all revenue linkages to improve the State capacity to repay debt.”
He stated that his government improved the debt management and debt transparency effective debt reduction strategies adopted by the administration, enabling the restructuring of the state Bond Facility in 2018, spreading the repayment process to ease the burden on the state’s monthly allocation.
The State also established Debt Arrears Clearance Framework (ACF) in 2020. Another success story was the Debt Buy Back Exercise with Zenith Bank PLC and United Bank for Africa (UBA) PLC in 2021.
Kogi State received the sum of $6 Million from the SFTAS on Debt reporting, improved debt sustainability and arrears of clearance framework. The Debt Management Office was upgraded, and a pioneer Director General was appointed.
Governor Bello further said that the state was doing a lot to grow the economy and improve its capacity to pay debts to Encourage foreign direct investment, Establishment of skills development/building of the Confluence University of Science and Technology (CUSTECH), Osara Increased investment in infrastructure: road and health Improved security system, Establishment of Kogi State Fiscal Responsibility Commission to promote a planned and balanced economic development.