THE World Bank has decried what it has identified as low disbursement of funds for developmental projects it and other international developmental agencies sponsor in Nigeria.
The bank disclosed its position when Lead Public Sector Governance Specialist and Cluster Leader for Anglophone West Africa, Mr. Jens Kromann Kristensen, and other officials of the bank from different fields working in concert with officials of the Federal Ministry of Finance and the National Planning Commission were on a maiden implementation support mission to Edo State.
They were, among other things, in the state to assess the level of preparedness of the state for the take-off of the State Employment and Expenditure for Results (SEEFOR) Project.
In an interview with The Guardian, Kristensen said: “Broadly, Nigeria portfolio has a disbursement of about 17.4 per cent, which has to go up because it is a high priority for our counterparts at all levels of government and it is a high priority for the World Bank for this to happen.
“Disbursement is obviously an indicator, but there is so much more than spending the money. If you have a loan or grant and the monies are not going out, then there is an indication that we can do better. And we stand committed at the World Bank to look into all these technical details as we are doing today with our counterparts in this state, to see how we can overcome the obstacle of a more technical nature to raising these disbursements in order to do what we are here to do, which is to alleviate poverty and probe governance and help our counterparts in this country achieve their developmental objectives.”
He, however, added that the problem of low disbursement was not only applicable to Nigeria, “but a challenge we face in some Asian and European countries.”
The World Bank chief maintained that some of the problems faced by projects funded entirely by the Nigerian government in the federal budgets “include procurement, disbursement, financial management and following due process.”
He added that in projects funded by banks, the rules were different because they were tighter and they were doing a lot to ensure due process, which could slow things down a lot when project officers were not used for those rules and guidelines.