Subjecting the budget process in the National Assembly to public hearings to provide for an inclusive multi-stakeholder involvement has been identified as one of the key solutions to reforming the country’s public finance and ensure equitable nationwide development.
In a similar manner, upscaling transparency and accountability through workable budget tracking measures which involve citizens at all levels has also 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 gladiators from the National Assembly, the Executive, Civil Society, Media, Development Partners, and other critical stakeholders.
The communiqué which was endorsed 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 and stressed that “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;
“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;“That there should be effective tracking of projects and evaluation of budget expenditures to ensure transparency and accountability whilst the role of anti-corruption agencies in the budgetary process clearly defined and enhanced; and “Multi-stakeholder consultations including the private sector, development partners and the media should be undertaken for the budgetary process;” and that “the media and civil society should improve their watchdog roles in monitoring the budgetary process.”