Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, has expressed the determination of the federal government to tackle the corruption malaise, saying it is one of the critical factorsÂ hampering the execution of projects and plans in the country.
But Udoma noted that governmentâ€™s focus was not just on fighting corruption but plugging loopholes through initiatives that would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the ill to thrive.
The minister said one major thrust of the 2017 budget was to partner with private and development capital to leverage and catalyse resources for growth, stressing that much of the capital provision is directed at projects that are aligned with the core execution priorities of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
According to a statement issued by the Media Adviser to the minister, Mr. Akpandem James, Udoma spoke in Abuja at a Situation Room Dialogue on the 2017 Budget, where he noted that collaboration with civil society was key to the effective implementation of budgets.
The minister emphasised the need for effective collaboration of civil society organisations (CSOs) in ensuring effective implementation of public policies, plans and budgets in the country through involvement in advocacy, monitoring and evaluation.
Acknowledging the potency of the CSOs in such roles,Â Udoma, said CSOs can help in advocating reforms to strengthen budgetary control, undertake independent project monitoring as well as collaborate with the Budget Office in monitoring and evaluation field work to ascertain whether funds allocated are being used effectively.
nation-building, he stated, is a process that requires the involvement of all, pointing out that the role of the CSOs is key, as contractors perform better when they are effectively supervised and monitored.
According to him, effective monitoring would ensure completion of funded projects and achievement of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) objectives as well as Sustainable Development Goals.
Explaining the focus of the 2017 Budget, the minister said it is based on the ERGP, a medium term recovery and growth plan which reflects governmentâ€™s strategy to restructure, reset, reposition and diversify the economy for sustained economic growth.
He said the budget was designed to deliver economic and social benefits outlined in the ERGP, adding that effective collaboration is key in achieving the developmental objectives of government, which is where the civil society is critical.
The minister assured that government would deepen its engagement with the civil society as it is committed to open government principles and accountable governance.
Addressing specific issues raised at the dialogue, the minister said governmentâ€™s interest in improving the Health Sector should not be seen only from the N55.61 billion allocation in the capital budget but also from the recurrent spend as expenditure in the sector is largely recurrent.
The Executive Director, PLAC and convener Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Mr. Clement Nwankwo, observed that Nigeria is a very rich country with vast resources and enormous capital, regretting that the problem has always been how the resources are gathered and how they are utilised.
These factors, according to him, are part of the reasons why the countryâ€™s economy went into recession.