Rivers maintains top overall fiscal performance position  BudgIT report
By Abujah Racheal

BudgIT, a civic-tech organisation leading the advocacy for fiscal transparency and accountability in Nigeria, said Rivers State maintained its overall fiscal performance position, ranking first, just as in 2020 and 2021.

Mr Iniobong Usen, BudgITs Research and Policy Advisory lead, said this at the presentation of the State of States report for 2022, with the theme, Sustainable Governance Reforms for a New Era, on Thursday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the report assesses and ranks the fiscal performance of all 36 states, from the most sustainable to the least sustainable.

Usen said for the 2022 edition, all 36 states were ranked using five metrics.

Index A examines states ability to meet Operating Expenses (Recurrent Expenditure) with only their Internally Generated Revenue; Index A1 looks at the percentage year-on-year growth of each states Internally Generated Revenue.

Index B reviews states ability to cover all operating expenses and loan repayment obligations with their Total Revenue (Internally Generated Revenue Statutory Transfers Aids and Grants) without resorting to borrowing.

Index C estimates the debt sustainability of the states using four major Indicators: A. Debt as a per cent of GDP, B. Debt as a per cent of Revenue, C. Debt service as a per cent of Revenue and D. Personnel Cost as a per cent of Revenue.

Index D evaluates the degree to which each State is prioritising capital expenditure concerning their operating expenses (recurrent expenditure), he explained.

He said Rivers maintained its overall fiscal performance position, ranking first, just like it did in 2020 and 2021.

According to him, two states, Kaduna and Cross River, made it to the top five on the overall fiscal performance ranking; Yobe dropped to the bottom five having fallen 13 places from 21st in 2021 to 34th position in 2022.

Usen said on Index A, two states (Lagos and Rivers) generated enough revenues internally to take care of their operating expenses.

Comparatively, the operating expenses of Yobe and Bayelsa (the least ranked states on index A) were more than seven times the revenues generated by both states internally, reinforcing the heavy reliance on federal transfers and budget support to fund their budgets.

On index A1, save for three states, which ranked the least Anambra, Kogi and Kebbi 33 states experienced an increase in their IGR from the previous year, with 13 states growing their IGR by more than 50 per cent.

Jigawa, Delta, Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom and Nasarawa ranked first to fifth respectively on Index C, which assessed the debt sustainability of the 36 states, he explained.

Furthermore, Usen said Cross River, Ogun, Imo, Osun, and Plateau were the bottom five states on Index C.

Lagos State, with a capital importation of 31.78 billion dollars between 2019 and 2021, received 99.19 per cent of the cumulative capital importation for 36 states of the federation.

Interestingly, 11 states received no capital importation between 2019 and 2021, he said.

Speaking on debt sustainability, Usen said the cumulative debt stock of the 36 states grew by 8.68 per cent from N5.86 trillion in 2020 to N6.37 trillion in 2021.

A more disaggregated view of the subnational debt shows that 11 states reduced their total debt liability, with Delta having the most impressive decline of 33.84 per cent.

Four states Oyo, Yobe, Ogun and Sokoto grew their total debt stock by more than 40 per cent from 2020, he said.

He added that the five most indebted states: Lagos, Kaduna, Rivers, Ogun, and Cross River were responsible for 37.09 per cent of total subnational debt.

Kogi, with a foreign debt year-on-year growth of 85.65 per cent ranked first among the 17 States that grew foreign debt in 2021.

The four states with the highest dollar-denominated debt (250 million dollars and above) Lagos, Kaduna, Cross River and Edo are the most susceptible to exchange rate volatility, he explained.

He said the cumulative expenditure of the 36 states increased by 27 per cent from N5.23 trillion in 2020 to N6.64 trillion in 2021.

Notwithstanding, while 31 states increased their total expenditure from the previous year, five states reduced their expenditure with Zamfara having the highest decline of 15.59 per cent.

However, the cumulative personnel cost of the 36 states grew by 5.38 per cent from N1.46 trillion in 2020 to N1.54 trillion in 2021.

Interestingly, nine states reduced their overhead cost from the previous year, signalling a reduction in the cost of governance.

Conversely, 11 states increased their overhead cost from the previous year by more than 40 per cent with Akwa Ibom having the highest growth, he said.

He said commendably, cumulative spending on capital expenditure by the 36 states grew by 52.52 per cent from N1.77 trillion in 2020 to N2.70 trillion in 2021.

Eight states increased their capital expenditure year-on-year by more than 100 per cent.

However, just five states including Anambra, Ebonyi, Cross River, Kaduna, Rivers prioritised capital expenditure over operation expenses, signalling the prioritisation of investments in infrastructure, job creation and human capital development.

On fiscal transparency, the 36 states of the federation currently publish promptly their proposed budgets, approved budgets, budget implementation reports, and audited financial statements for both the States and the Local Governments.

In the same vein, many states have enacted an Audit Law that grants operational and financial autonomy to the Offices of Auditors-General of the State and Local Governments, thereby empowering their supreme audit institutions to effectively hold governments accountable, he said.

He stated that 35 states, excluding Taraba, had captured the biometric and BVN data of at least 70 per cent of the civil servants and pensioners on their payroll, and linked the captured data to their payroll management system.

Cumulatively, 35 states (excluding Taraba), have a total of 848,483 civil servants and 498,097 pensioners on their payroll. As a result, at least 15,397 ghost workers have been identified and eliminated in 13 states across the federation.

On the flip side, only a few states have been able to establish and operationalise a state-level functional Treasury Single Account (TSA) to ensure that it covers at least 70 per cent of all its finance, he said.

Similarly, he stated that some states were yet to ensure that all the schedules of contracts awarded for the year were published online as required under the Open Contracting Data Standards and in line with the procurement laws/guidelines. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Salif Atojoko

Source: NAN News