Nigeria Trails Zimbabwe, Benin, Afghanistan On Global Budget Transparency Index

BudgIT Expresses Disappointment

Photo: President Buhari presenting Nigeria’s 2018 budget before a joint sitting of the National Assembly

Latest data on budget transparency of countries across the globe, released by the Open Budget index on Tuesday, ranked Nigeria 90th.
Nigeria fell behind far less endowed nations like Afghanistan on the Index which assesses the comprehensiveness and timeliness of budget information that governments make publicly available.
In Africa, Nigeria currently ranks 23, with a score of 17, fell behind South Africa on number one after scoring 89; Uganda (60); Senegal, 51; while Ghana and Namibia with a score of 50, ranked fourth and fifth.
Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Liberia were also ahead of Nigeria on the index, just like Madagascar, Benin and Rwanda.
Reacting, an obviously worried civil society group- BudgIT, expressed dismay at Nigeria’s current position based on issues of fiscal transparency and public participation in the budget process.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, according to a statement by Abiola Afolabi, Communications Lead at BudgIT, lamented on Wednesday, “has apparently taken steps backwards despite persistent advocacy by citizens and repeated promises by the government to improve.”
BudgIT accused the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government of providing her citizens with insufficient budget information, thereby making it difficult for taxpayers to understand how elected officials are utilising available resources.
Worse still, the group continued, is the fact that the nation’s “budget process takes very little feedback from the public, and the final budget document does not reveal how the meagre feedbacks are used.
Nigeria’s low rank, the group continued, is not unconnected to the government’s failure to produce its mid-year review, besides the fact that the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Budget Implementation Reports were published late. Even then, it continued, it believes the content of all budget documents produced in Nigeria falls short on the minimum acceptable global standards as itemised in the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency Framework.
BudgIT, which applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement, to facilitate societal change, therefore urged the Federal Government to improve the timeliness of releasing its essential budget documents, besides running an open, rather the current seemingly opaque budget system.
“It is also vital that Nigeria improves on the comprehensiveness of the critical budget documents, including the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), the Budget Implementation Reports, the executive budget proposal, the enacted budget and the year-end report.
“Nigeria also needs to produce and publish a mid-year review of fiscal activities in line with the minimum global standard in budgeting. There is also an urgent need for a structured participatory mechanism designed to capture views of the public throughout the budget cycle.