OrderPaperToday – Stakeholders from the public, private and non-governmental sectors on Tuesday exchanged ideas on how to improve the country’s budgetary process and ensure service delivery for the benefit of citizens.
The event was a ‘pre-inauguration dialogue session of national budget reform roundtable’ convened by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila.
The speaker was represented by the deputy speaker, Mr. Idris Wase, who charged stakeholders to take advantage of the meeting to proffer suggestions to help resolve knotty issues around the budget.
He informed that the engagement of development partners, government parastatals and other stakeholders in the process of budget planning would eliminate suspicion, unnecessary delays and close the gap between the executive and the legislature.
According to the Speaker, the roundtable would boost and revamp the country’s ailing economy and at the same time improve relationship between the legislature and the executive so that the timing for future budget can revert back to the usual January to December circle.
Setting the tone for the meeting, Mr. Nnana Igbokwe, Special Assistant to the Speaker on Legislative Matters, said “leadership of the House is desirous of seamless and timely budget process. The concept shall be approached by three major levels. The roundtable would help eliminate conflict between the executive and legislative. The current leadership is also keen in operating an open and transparent policy in the budgetary process.
“The other concept is harmonization, that’s to say before passage of the budget both arms needs to meet for harmonization. And the last aspect has to do with monitoring and evaluation by civil society organizations in order to keep both arms on their toes. The leadership is giving all Nigerians through this fora the opportunity to participate in their budgetary process”, he added.
Speaking on low budget performance, the Accountant General of the Federation, Mohammed Idris decried the lack of adequate revenue as to why budget performance has been low in the years past. He also enjoined government agencies to cut cost in their expenses.
Chairman of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Mr. Elias Mbam decried the “over politicization” of the budgetary process, saying “it is one of the reason why we have abandoned projects littered everywhere in the country.”
He proposed that the budget circle should commence on 1st of June and end on 31st of May every year.
Mr. Tunde Fowler, Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), also suggested that revenue generating agencies should be invited by national assembly periodically in order to get first hand updates on their activities instead of inviting them separately.
Other stakeholders at the event included the Nigeria Labour Congress, Nigeria Customs Service, and Civil Society Organizations, etc.