The Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning’s Home Finance Department has asked $8.93 million from the World Bank to purchase 21 items, including office stationery, furniture, office supplies, office equipment, and cars.
The requests were submitted as part of the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability project, which began in 2018.
The SFTAS initiative, which aims to improve openness and accountability at the subnational level, will come to an end this year. The World Bank allocated $1.5 billion to the project in two installments of $750 million (December 2018 and December 2020).
Although the money is a grant to the states, it is actually a debt to the federal government. Our correspondent just got a copy of the project’s procurement plan, which covers the period from February 2019 to August 2020.
The procurement strategy adheres to the World Bank’s Procurement Guidelines, which outline the procedures to be followed for acquiring the products and services (including associated services) necessary for a project.
According to the World Bank’s procurement strategy for the SFTAS project for the time, the Home Finance Department sought an estimated $25,713 for office stationery and consumables.
Another $33,000 was requested for office supplies and equipment for the SFTAS Programme Coordinating Unit.
The department asked for $64,190 to furnish and equip the SFTAS Public Service Institute facility; $17,000 for extra office furniture and partitioning of the STFAS office; and $17,250 for new office equipment and furniture for the Debt Management Office.
The department also asked for $25,000 to buy video conferencing equipment for the SFTAS PCU and MiFi modems for the DMO.
The largest request, however, was for the distribution of geographical data to states, which was anticipated to cost $8 million. A $291,804 request was also made for the acquisition of project cars for the PCU and independent verification agent.
Out of the 21 items proposed, three were cancelled, one was successfully completed, and another was under implementation. Also, four were pending implementation, and the rest were only signed as of the time the document was released in October 2022. The cancelled requests included two more requests for additional furniture, which had been previously signed.
the Federal Government received $338.98m from the World Bank in 2022, which it planned to release to states soon through the SFTAS programme. the website of the World Bank showed that four disbursements were made to the Federal Government in 2022. The first disbursement was made in April 2022, with the release of $700,036.87, while the second was $330.99m in June.
The third disbursement was in October, with the release of $6.83m, while the last disbursement was $450,419 in November this year. Recently, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed, disclosed that states had received N471.9bn of the $1.5bn World Bank-assisted SFTAS Programme for Results.
Also, during a special dinner by the PCU of the Finance Ministry and the World Bank with state governors to celebrate SFTAS achievement, the finance minister said that the last tranche of the funds would be released to states “in a few weeks.”
She said, “I am pleased to inform you that in the next few weeks, your states will receive the last tranche of performance-based grants, including the sum of N1bn withheld by the Central Bank through naira exchange deficit, thus bringing to a close the Performance for Results Grant, even though the technical assistance component will continue to be delivered by implementing agencies and partners till June 2023 when the programme will finally wind down.”
When contacted by our correspondent, the SFTAS‘ Communications Specialist, Ibrahim Mohammed, said that it was a regular procedure to purchase items needed for a project.
He noted that the items were acquired at the start of the project and were used to ensure the successful implementation of the project.
He said, “When a programme starts, there is procurement of the basic items needed for the jobs. So, procurement was made in terms of providing furniture for the office, ICT infrastructure, and the rest. They are all for the use of the office, not the ministry or department.
“The office is situated in the Home Finance Department of the Ministry of Finance. We have implementing agencies and partners like the DMO, AGF, OGP, and Office of the Auditor General of the Federation. All the salaries for consultants are drawn from that fund, and the consultants offer technical assistance to the States.”