Saturday, April 19, 2014

Focus on budgetary allocations to key sectors, National Assembly tells civil societies

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The National Assembly’s Budget and Research Office has called on civil society organisations to focus on key capital projects in their reports while monitoring programmes to ensure accountability and national development.

The Deputy Director, Energy and Infrastructure Sector of the National Assembly, Ojo Michael, said civil society groups have a responsibility to monitor how allocations to some critical projects such as those for power sector, Niger-Delta development and national security are being utilized.

Mr. Michael, who made the call at a one-day workshop on Engagement on Budget Oversight, Reporting and Documentation on Thursday in Abuja, said those projects not only have direct impact on the lives of the people, but they are also very significant to the growth of the Nigerian economy

“Civil society organisations should, therefore, give priority attention to such critical areas of national development if the country must move progress and move forward,” he said.

Michael noted that budget reporting must be well packaged and must contain some basic and important components, which should logically be presented, to form the basis for passing judgment over its implementation.

According to Mr. Michael, the amended 1999 Constitution empowered the National Assembly to control public funds, adding that this establishes the need for an Appropriation Bill as one of the legislative functions that a parliament must carry out.

He said that though budget reporting could be described as an annual ritual of budget legislation, the process of performing this important legislative function requires accurate and timely information data to be able to participate effectively in the appropriation process,.

The deputy director also challenged the organisations to assist the legislature in the appropriation process by providing analysis of revenues and spending performance through effective budget reporting.

Policy and Legislative Advocacy Officer, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Kolawole Banwo, said the workshop was to strengthen the capacity of civil society groups to partner with the National Assembly on budget monitoring, adding that this would strengthen public support for external accountability in budget performance evaluation for legislative intervention in the budget cycle.

Mr. Banwo added that the workshop would improve the ability of civil society organisations to report effectively on budget implementation, in a simple and clear manner that would facilitate intervention by NASS.

He restated the commitment of the CISLAC to support NASS budget oversight functions with useful reports that would assist relevant committees to carry out their duties effectively.

(NAN)

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