Nigeria slumps in global budget rankings



NIGERIA may have extended its frontier in negative indices with another poor showing, this time in the global ranking of budget processes- transparency, inclusiveness and implementation, from 2012 to September 2015.

Quite worrisome is also the low level of performance among African countries, with South Africa at the top, followed by Sierra Leon, Ghana, Liberia and São Tomé and Principe, while Nigeria could only beat Equatorial Guinea.

This was part of the report unveiled yesterday at the launch of the Nigerian Open Budget Survey 2015, in Abuja, by the International Budget Partnership (IBP), in collaboration with BudgIT, Centre for Social Justice, the Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre and Socio-Economic Research and Development Centre.

The Open Budget Index, operated by IBP, is the world’s only independent and comparative measure of budget transparency and currently tracks 102 countries, under 109 budget-related indicators.

Specifically, the indicators subsumed in the three major heads- Transparency, Public Participation and Budget Oversight- which the country failed, were pointing to the lingering mismanagement of public funds, poor implementation of budget and oversight and rising level of poverty as well as inequality.

While the country scored 24 out of 100 points assessment and a general average expectations of 45, Sierra Leon scored 52; Ghana, 51; Liberia, 38; and São Tomé and Principe, 24, while Equatorial Guinea got four.

The representative of IBP, Elena Mundo, while unveiling the report, said budgets are more or less imposed on the people instead of being a product of public engagement in the process and that government failed to make reports available for public, but kept them for internal use, while audit oversight function is limited.

“Nigeria scoring 25 out of 100, against 61 taken as sufficiency level, tells of a pretty bad situation. But it doesn’t mean that there is no opportunity to reverse the ugly development. Government must begin to make its budget document open to the public for input and in timely manner.

“Of course, making documents and information available can eliminate covering of real issues, even the media will be able to determine how public finances are actually used. Citizens should be in the know, that is the way to go,” she said.

A World Bank’s Senior Governance Specialist, Roland Lomme, in a goodwill message, said: “Budget transparency is an essential accountability mechanism that will show how resources are spent and for the good of the people. Although the report is poor at 24, but Nigeria increased the budget transparency from 16 in 2012.

We only need consistent improvement now.

“The issue of subsidy, the operations and the cost to the country are challenges. Transparency in public finance is important if the country must rise to the anticipated and assessable potentials,” he said.

The Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele, who was represented by the Director of Finance, Mrs. T.O. Image, said budget stands as the instrument of control and cannot taken for granted, because any budget that is not followed is as good as non-existent.

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