Cross River has every reason to stand strong in the year, 2021, as it proudly maintains the enviable status of the State that has achieved $20.4m in grants from the World Bank funded SFTAS programme of the Federal government of Nigeria, especially, that, this laudable achievement would go a long way to addressing unemploymentand youth  restiveness in the State. Assessment reports from a State-wide exercise conducted in September, 2020 by the Independent Verification Assessors, IVA, from the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation and JFR Consulting, showed that Cross River achieved six Disbursement Linked Indicators, out of the nine applicable DRLs for 2019 and three DLRs out of 3DLRs, i.e. 100% for 2020 additional financing.
The State Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Asuquo Ekpenyoung Jr., in a Press briefing in Calabar, highlighted achievements recorded so far in the State in the SFTAS programme for results-organized by the State Steering Committee. He revealed that the State government met the eligibility criteria for 2019 programme and was accordingly, pre-qualified for the detailed annual performance assessment of all qualified Nigerian States under the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and sustainability (SFTAS) programme.
“The report”, Ekpenyong disclosed, stated that Cross River State has strengthened its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) collection, implemented biometric verification to reduce payroll fraud, improved its procurement practices for
increased transparency, as well as, strengthened its public debt management and fiscal responsibility framework, improved debt sustainability and instituted a more transparent budgeting process over the course of the fiscal year.
He therefore, used the opportunity to commend members of SFTAS, and State Steering Committee for their untiring efforts in bringing the State machinery up to speed towards achieving resounding success in the programme.
The Commissioner stated that, the Independent Verification success is a confirmation of Sir Ben Ayade’s administration’s commitment to transparency and fiscal performance, noting that they were able to surmount
numerous challenges at the course of work, even as positive results have been achieved for the world to see, due to the passionate commitment of the Steering Committee that hinged its support on the well organized civil service
administration of the State. While calling on the Media to work in synergy with the government to promote development programmes, Ekpenyong also, called on the good people of State to always appreciate the political goodwill of Sir Ben Ayade, who he described as a visionary Leader that deserves unwavering support. Also in his remarks, the Chairman, Cross River State Internal Revenue Service, Mr. Akpanke Ogar, applauded Sir Ayade for his
unrelenting efforts at ensuring better welfare packages for the State, noting that it is such good nature of the Governor that accounts for the positive and result-oriented programmes the State is able to deliver.
Disclosing that very soon, the State would embark on a-State-wide enumeration of the people and businesses alike, he thanked the Media for ensuring effective dissemination of accurate and educative information on government programmes in the State.
The SFTAS Programe is afour-year programme that is designed to run from 2018 to 2021, with a budget size of $750m and a product of mutual agreement between the Federal government of Nigeria and World bank, designed to strengthen the fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainability in the Nigerian States, as a way of improving their revenue base, increasing fiscal efficiency in public expenditure and reducing debt overhang The Steering Committee comprises, Ministry of Finance, Internal Revenue Service, Office of the Accountant-General and Bureau of Due Process, including office of State Auditor-General and Debt Management.