By Stephen Oni, Ilorin
The Kwara state Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, has advocated a reduction in the counterpart fund payable by state governments as matching grants for the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) programme.
The governor, who made the call while receiving members of the UBEC monitoring team led by its Deputy Director of Planning, Research and Statistics, Mr Osahon Igbinoba in Ilorin, the state capital, opined that this would allow more states to access the grants.
He implored the UBEC board to intensify efforts in ensuring that the counterpart fund clause is removed from the UBEC enabling law or reduced to 10 per cent for the States while UBEC provides the 90 per cent matching grants.
Governor Ahmed noted that states across the federation have been lagging behind in the provision of the 50 per cent counterpart funds due to drop in federal allocation accruable to them from the federal government, which he said had also affected their capacity to borrow.
He added that it is almost impossible for States to contribute 50 per cent contribution under the current revenue profile but with 10 per cent as counterpart fund requirement, most states would be able to make the funds available.
The governor expressed the State government’s readiness to access the funds, noting that the government had earmarked N876million as counterpart fund for the 2014/2015 tranche.
Speaking further, Governor Ahmed observed that Kwara State had to go through financial engineering to ensure that salaries of workers are paid regularly and that developmental projects are carried to completion.
He commended the efforts of the federal government towards improving infrastructure at the basic education level across the country, and promised that the state government would continue to partner UBEC to improve quality of primary and junior secondary education in the State.
Earlier, Mr Osahon Igbinoba had disclosed that the team was in the State to monitor the 2014/2015 federal government’s intervention projects under UBEC in the State, lamenting that 20 per cent of the projects had not been implemented due to some bottle necks.
Igbinoba, therefore, urged the State government to expedite action so that the projects can be fast tracked for the benefit of the pupils.
By Stephen Oni, Ilorin