• Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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32 states rank low in fiscal transparency, accountability – Audit Report

Aligning governance with the SDGs: A strategic imperative for businesses

A new Audit Report published on Thursday shows that up to 32 States out of 36 States and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, are ranked low in terms of transparency and accountability as regards the management of public funds.

The report, entitled, the Sub-national Audit Efficacy (SAE) Index 2023, revealed that four States including Ekiti, Yobe, Akwa Ibom and Katsina, are best performing States having 53%, 60% and 73% respectively.

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Other States scored 45% and below, with Lagos, Benue, Abia, and Jigawa having the lowest score of 5%, 10%, 13% and 15% respectively. Benue and Lagos States lagged, occupied the 35th and 36th positions.

While the average score for the 2022 assessment showed 31.81%, the 2023 Index revealed a total average of 30.58% indicating a 1.23% decline year on year.

The SAE Index assesses the level of transparency and accountability operational in the management and utilization of public funds and implementation of public policies across all 36 States of the Federation through Public Audit and key actors in the Public Audit action cycle.

The methodology deployed for the assessment and collected, analyzed, and validated data provided by Supreme Audit Institutions, Public Accounts Committees, Offices of Accountant-General, Civil Society and Media Organizations in all 36 States of the Federation.

Findings from the report showed that only 4 out of 36 States have made progress towards implementing financial autonomy and 12 out of 36 States have implemented legal provisions to activate administrative independence for the Office of the Auditor-General.

Also, the report noted that none of the 36 States produced standard performance Audit Report on Government’s programmes, projects, or policies in the 2022 financial year. Furthermore, only 3 out of 36 States are sufficiently involving civic and media actors in the Audit process of their States and just 5 out of 36 States have effective Public Accounts Committee in their Houses of Assembly.

Speaking at the report launch, Olusegun Elemo, PLSI’s Executive Director, emphasized that the Subnational Audit Efficacy Index, initiated in 2021, served as an annual scorecard assessing the temperature of public finance management and policy implementation practices at the State level.

He expressed concern over the waning performance of States noting that results from the latest assessment indicated further decline in performance of policy actors and erosion of reforms needed to sustain and improve on the World Bank-Assisted States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme for Results implemented between 2018 and 2022 of which the sum of $1.5 billion was provided to State Governments as grants.

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Elemo elaborated on several recommendations aimed at enhancing public finance management practices at Sub-national level in Nigeria including the need for the Executive, Legislature, and the Office of the Auditor-General at the State level to collaborate to remedy inadequacies in the Audit legal framework and implement the Audit law effectively.