The World Bank and the European Union have scored Edo State Government high on project execution, employment generation and financial management saying the state has justified the grant it got for critical projects.
The Bank’s team on a visit to the state on a mid-term review of the State Employment and Expenditure for Results (SEEFOR) Project noted that the Government made a lot of progress on its own even when the there was a lull in response from the World Bank and EU.
Mr. Ismaila Cessay who led the team on a visit to Governor Adams Oshiomhole in his office said: “we stand ready to support you and so far, we are impressed with what we have seen. We are getting all the information we require and since the mission did not hold for over a year, we realized that notwithstanding, your state has actually progressed on its own, implementing the activities that were agreed in the World Bank and those issues are being resolved in a steady manner.
“This morning, we have started our mission and it has been a very productive mission so far. The Project Coordinator and his team have demonstrated to us that for all the 3 components of the projects, there is actually visible progress in terms of implementation process. Being a mid-term review, we need to discuss among ourselves and get the consensus of your government on areas that will require restructuring, if need be.
“We also looked at the fact that since the EU money has not been forth coming but it is going to be available by next month, which is a grant to this government, that the project would require restructuring, not only restructuring for the purpose of accommodating the EU funds but also extending the life of the project by another two years.
“With this, we are all of the opinion that the present development strides will be delivered in this state and other states that the project seeks to support. Our management is very keen to continue with this support and for us to work with you, not to supervise you but to work with you on implementation, support arrangement, where, if there are weaknesses in any area, we stand by you and support you in resolving those issues.
“The state grant issue which was a critical area of the bank problem under this project has since been resolved and we also understand and we have seen some evidence that the state is not only trying to ensure that such an issue does not arise but are also implementing sustainability measures that will allow these projects in terms of outcome of it to continue even when the Bank and the EU are not partnering with you.
“We want to reconfirm to you that we the Bank and EU will stand by you in supporting your developmental strides which we have seen the progress that have been achieved in the past two years especially in the area of employment generation and financial management area.”
Also speaking, the EU representative, Mr. Yuan Hansla said, “We at the EU are very keen to see our additional finances that is going to be incorporated into the project to be finally approved and available by the end of this month to the beginning of next month. We are very happy to be partnering with the World Bank and National Planning Commission and with the different states that we are partnering with.
“What we have heard this morning has been very encouraging and we are looking forward to continuing with this project.”
Governor Oshiomhole in his response to the World Bank team expressed the Government’s delight in the team’s visit to see first-hand what the state has done.
He said: “we are very delighted to have you in Edo State to see for yourself and to reconcile what is in the books to what is on ground and I think for me, that is the way it should be.
“It shows the level of your interest in our partnership. It is one thing to throw the dollar and the Euro at nation state or some national government to deal with perceived challenges, it is another thing to show personal interest in monitoring and ensuring g that those support translate to concrete terms and that they do have impact in the lives of actual human beings which is the primary purpose of government so I can’t thank you enough for coming and making painstaking effort in trying to look at what we are doing.
“I welcome this active engagement and physical interaction between the Bank, the Union and our officials. Things are very tight now, unfortunately for too long we have celebrated and abused potentials without making efforts to translate those potentials. We have all lamented year in, year out about the dangers of an economy that is sustained on the basis of oil and from history of the product, we know that it can go as low as 9 dollars per barrel or as high as 140 dollars.
“As much as we were all aware of this, it doesn’t look as if we all have taken concrete steps to prevent or prepare for the season that we have found ourselves in right now and around the country, when many states are unable to meet their basic obligations to pay workers, which is not just a moral issue but also an economy issue. When a state is the largest employer of labor and it default on its obligation to workers, workers defaults in their obligation to their landlords, and they default in their obligation to their children, default in the payment of school fees, default in patronizing the market, you have a terrible vicious circle, the way in which victims of this circle express themselves is very dysfunctional leading to social tension, crime which scares away investors .
“But we in Edo State saw this long ago, we try to focus very aggressively on internally generated revenue and we were able to pay salaries before December even though allocation from Abuja didn’t come until January because we had to depend on our locally generated revenue.”