Survey faults 13 states’ budget process


Nduka Chiejina (Assistant Editor) and Clinton Njaka

 

THIRTEEN states have opaque procurement processes and no information on their budget for public consultation.

This disclosure was made by the Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDC) on Tuesday in Abuja while presenting the outcome of the Sub-national Budget Transparency  Survey  2018.

The Lead Researcher/ Project Coordinator, CIRDDC, Ralph Ndigwe was targeted at ensuring an open, inclusive and accountable budget and procurement process. According to the report, only  Jigawa  state  scored  above  60  on  all  three  sub-indices- availability  of  key  budget  documents,  public  participation,  and  procurement  transparency.

The report stated that Kaduna state  scored  above  60  on  two  out  of  three  sub-indices,  while  Anambra,  Cross River,  Delta, Ebonyi,  Lagos,  and  Ogun  states  scored  above  60  on  one  out  of  three  sub-indices.

Adamawa,  Akwa Ibom,  Bauchi,  Bayelsa,  Borno,  Edo,  Imo,  Rivers,  and  Zamfara states have no mechanisms for the public to be involved in any phase of the budget process.

There have been growing claims that many states’ budgets and the processes are shrouded in secrecy and procurement processes are not transparent by international best practices.

CIRDDC carried out a survey with the aim of instilling transparency in budgeting and budget process in the 36 states of the federation through the use of some key indicators.

The indicators are public availability of budget information, public participation in the budget process, public availability of procurement information and legal framework on access to budget information and fiscal responsibility.

According to the report, “most States fail to provide meaningful opportunities for the public to participate in the budget process both to informed decisions about how government raises and allocates funds and to hold state governments accountable for implementing those decisions. Thirteen states have almost no budget information, non-existent spaces for public consultation, and opaque procurement processes.”

The survey was funded by the Department for International Development (DfID) also evaluated the amount allocated to different types of spending, the revenues collected and how international donor assistance and other public resources are used.

Ndigwe said: “Most  states  failed  to provide  meaningful  opportunities  for  the  public  to  participate  in  the  budget  process” noting that “the inability of the people to have access to budget documents would deny them the opportunity to know  how  government  raises  and  allocates  funds  and  to  hold  state governments  accountable  for  implementing  those  decisions.”

Of the 36 states surveyed, only  two  states,  Jigawa,  and Anambra  offered  participation  opportunities  that  are  considered adequate. Ndigwe lamented that “without  opportunities  for  citizens’  active  participation particularly  citizens  from  marginalised  or  vulnerable  groups,  budget  systems  would  only  serve the interests  of  powerful  elites.”

He noted that, “majority of the states could quickly improve transparency by making documents they already produce publicly available. Most  states  that  produce  documents  that  they  are  not  publishing  on  their  official  websites already publish other  documents  online, so  they could easily do so for all documents.”

The Lead Governance Specialist/Financial Management of the World Bank, Sabah Rashid, said some states had improved in the index, while others have declined. This development she said has reinforced the need for continuous support by stakeholders in this area.

Department for International Development (DFID) Head of Governance, Conflict and Social Development in Nigeria Alex Stevens appealed to states that are lagging behind on the index “to learn from the experiences of those that have made progress. He said the DFID would continue to work with government at the state level to make them commit to open, transparent and accountable government.



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