By Mosunmola Ayobami, Kwara
Kwara State Government officials on Monday met with a delegation of the Independent Verification Agents (IVAs) as part of a competitive bid to access $18 million grant from the World Bank to fix the infrastructural deficit.
Chairman of Kwara’s Steering Committee of the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability for Result (SFTAS), AbdulAzeez Oyelowo said the IVA team was visiting to check the state’s compliance with the criteria required for any state to be given the grants.
The state governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq had earlier constituted the steering committee ahead of the meeting with the World Bank’s IVA to make a strong case for Kwara as it continually meets all the requirements.
Oyelowo, who is the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Planning, said Kwara has satisfied the first criteria that included ensuring transparency and accountability, adding that the project begun since 2018 and would continue until 2021 but only qualified states would get the grants.
“The federal government secured a loan of $750 million from the World Bank, out of which $700million is for states that are performing in terms of ensuring fiscal responsibility, transparency and good governance at the subnational level.
“In accessing this, they came up with certain criteria for state to qualify for assessment. Apart from two eligibility criteria states must meet in the first place, there are other indicators that serve as parameters on which each state will be assessed. The first criterion any interested state must meet is to publish its annual budget online on or before February of the year.
“Secondly, the audited financial statement must be ready on or before September of the following year. Kwara state met these two criteria. So, the IVAs are here to assess the nine indicators ranging from budget reliability, improved Internally generated revenue, and other parameters of good governance.”
Kwara is entitled to a maximum $18 million of the $700 million grant.
Also the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service Chairman Folashade Omoniyi said the IVA visited the state to evaluate the state on the 2018 SFTAS exercise, a development she noted will help them improve on the result in the fiscal year.
The head of the IVAs team from the office of the Auditor General of the Federation, Adeagbo Ademola said Kwara is one of the states that have excelled in the first stage of assessment and that the visit was to assess its continuous performance on other key indicators.
“The state, after meeting all the criteria at the end of the exercise, will get its money released between February and March next year,” he added.