EDDY OCHIGBO, Kaduna
An elaborate template for budget tracking and monitoring of the 2020 budget – with special emphasis on procurement status, level of compliance, project code, budget source documents and payments – have been put in place to checkmate bureaucratic bottlenecks, militating against optimum budget implementation in Kaduna state.
This renewed impetus of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), was a fallout of a 2-day partners budget reflection meeting for all stakeholders working around budget in the state – put together by Partnership to Engage Reform and Learn in collaboration with UK aid – touched on trend analysis of budget in key service delivery sectors of Health, Education and Infrastructure, between 2016 and 2020 as well as a comprehensive review of citizens’ engagements around 2020 budget development process with a view of making 2021 more effective and result oriented.
A resource person at the event, Dr Elisha Auta Menson, who is also a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics of the Kaduna State University (KASU), in an interview with NATIONAL ACCORD, commended the organizers, stressing the need for citizens to benefit from effective implementation of the state’s 2020 budget.
“Budget is a vital instrument of governance. When it comes to issues of service delivery, particularly in the social sectors that members of the society benefit from, government must carry all stakeholders along. While Kaduna state has made tremendous progress in terms of opening up the budget process, there are still some issues that need to be addressed. First, we need more information around the budget such as the projects that are being executed, because we need to understand the time that monies are released”, Menson remarked, regretting that as civil society, “while we are trying to monitor and evaluate progress, we’ve had some challenges because sometimes, even when monies are released by the government, bottlenecks don’t really allow for quick interventions in terms of money getting directly to those carrying out the projects”.
He decried a situation where the civil society are denied the right information when trying to track projects appropriately, thereby adversely affecting effective evaluation and assessment of projects. While explaining that budget has four critical steps of formulation, implementation, oversight and auditing, Menson remarked that “it is expected that the spirit of co-creation takes the center stage, which implies that at each stage or budget phase; the civil society on one side and government on the other, need to work together so that technical issues are adequately addressed to make it easier to assess performance”.
On his part, Mr Yusuf Goje of the Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment and Development (CALPED), expressed delight about the meeting, maintaining that it was a good platform for all stakeholders working around the state’s Budget 2020 and 2021 to give the citizens an insight as to whether or not government is actualizing its mandatory role of providing for the people.
PERL’s State Team Leader, Mr Abel Adejor, expressed satisfaction with the turnout of participants and their selfless determination in working tirelessly around the budget process of the state, and thanked them for their unwavering sacrifice.
The 2-day partners’ budget reflection meeting attracted participants from the state’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).