Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja
Subjecting the budget process in the National Assembly to public hearings to provide for an all-encompassing multi-stakeholder involvement has been identified as one of the key solutions to reforming the country’s public finance and ensure equitable nationwide development.
Also, upscaling transparency and accountability through workable budget tracking measures, which involve citizens at all levels, has been listed as a major step in making the annual budget work in the public interest.
These recommendations were part of a 12-point communiqué raised from the OrderPaper.ng Colloquium on budgetary reforms held on September 26, 2016 in Abuja and attended by campaigners from the National Assembly, the executive, civil society, media, development partners, and other critical stakeholders.
The communiqué, which was jointly signed by Oke Epia, Publisher of OrderPaper.ng; Anthony Ubani, Moderator of the Technical Panel; and Chido Onumah, head of the team of rapporteurs for the colloquium, harped on timeliness of budget presentation, stressing: “The executive and legislature should adopt a more participatory budgeting process by widely consulting with the citizens and other stakeholders through public hearings.”
Other resolutions reached at the meeting include: “That a formal forum for pre-budget consultations and liaison between the legislature and the executive should be created in order to reduce the instances of disagreements and bickering between the two arms upon presentation of the Appropriation bill, passage and subsequent implementation.
“That the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) should be adopted as a benchmark for determining what projects to be included in the budget which should be equitably spread across the country; and that provision of the Fiscal Responsibility Act should be strictly adhered to in the preparation and implementation of the budget whilst a holistic look at the Act should be considered to take care of observed deficiencies.’’