THE International Budget Partnership (IBP) has ranked Nigeria low for lack of transparency and poor public engagement in the development and implementation of its national budget.
In the survey tagged Open Budget Index – the world’s only independent and comparative measure of budget transparency, the IBP scored Nigeria an abysmal 17 points out of 100 –substantially lower than the global average score of 42.
“Nigeria provided the public with scant budget information,” the IBP survey revealed.
It stated that Nigeria’s score of 13 out of 100 in public engagement, indicates that it provides few opportunities for the public to engage in the budget process. The mark is slightly higher than the global average score of 12.
The survey also assessed whether the Federal Government made eight key budget documents available to the public online in a timely manner and whether the documents present budget information in a comprehensive and useful way.
It equally showed that legislatures, supreme audit institutions, and independent fiscal institutions provided limited oversight during the budget cycle.
“At 56 out of 100, Nigeria aced the average global benchmark of 60, however, “This score reflects that the legislature provides limited oversight during the planning stage of the budget cycle and limited oversight during the implementation stage of the budget cycle,” the survey revealed.
The research recommended that for Nigeria to improve its budget transparency, the government should publish a pre-budget statement, In-Year Reports, Citizens Budget online and in a timely manner.
It must aslo produce and publish a Mid-Year Review and increase the information provided in the Executive’s Budget proposal by providing more detail on expenditures and revenue
The IBP suggested an oversight upgrade which will include, holding legislative hearings on the formulation of the annual budget.
Doing this, it explained, members of the public or civil society organizations can testify adding that there must also be the establishment of formal mechanisms for the public to assist the supreme audit institution in formulating its audit program and to participate in relevant audit investigations.
Public participation as a factor towards social development the survey showed would increase if the Executive’s ensure that the budget proposal is provided to legislators at least two months before the start of the budget year.
It advocated for a creation of a legislative committee that will examine and publish reports on in-year budget implementation online while making provisions for the supreme audit institution to have adequate funding to perform its duties.
Finally, on the list of recommendation is the publication of reports of the independent fiscal institution on cost estimates of new policy proposals online.