The Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has advocated strong collaboration among the three tiers of government in the fight against poverty in the country.
He made the call on Friday in Asaba at the opening of the 18th Joint Planning Board and National Council on Development Planning meeting, with the theme : State Fiscal Sustainability and Economic Diversification in Nigeria.
Osinbajo said synergy between the federal, state and local governments was imperative so that citizens could be productively engaged and lifted out of poverty.
He urged States in the county to improve on tax administration and widen their tax nets to make it easier for people to pay taxes and fast track development.
The Vice President thanked the organisers for the instructive theme of the meeting, saying it was timely and at the core of governance at all levels.
He said over the years there had been a sharp drop in the level of funding of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) and federal revenue, including annual Internally Generated Revenue hardly met the financial needs of the states.
Osinbajo said the situation had made it imperative for states to think outside the box by engaging in fiscal strategic planning and identifying areas where they had comparative advantage, particularly in the area of agriculture, which sustained the nation’s economy in the past, to be able to overcome their socioeconomic challenges.
For his part, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa said that it was imperative for State Governors to imbibe the culture of fiscal discipline, to guarantee fiscal sustainability.
He stated that observance of fiscal rules was the first step to achieving fiscal sustainability, adding that annual budgets of States must be derived from the Fiscal Strategy Paper in line with the Fiscal Responsibility Law.
The Governor said Delta State had adhered strictly to the Fiscal Responsibility law, which required all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to align their projects and programmes with available resources in short, medium and long terms, to eliminate deficit and restore a healthy public finance system.
Okowa said more importantly, the State had kept the size of its budget realistic and realisable, while projects were embarked on based on their economic and social values.
The Governor added that thousands of youths in the state had benefitted from the skills acquisition and entrepreneurship programmes of his administration designed as viable employment options, adding that the beneficiaries were now owners and managers of skill based enterprises.