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Home Opinion Know your budget: Public Involvement As The Key To Effective Budget Process – By AbdurRahman Dutsin-ma
Know your budget: Public Involvement As The Key To Effective Budget Process – By AbdurRahman Dutsin-ma

Know your budget: Public Involvement As The Key To Effective Budget Process – By AbdurRahman Dutsin-ma

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Know your budget: Public Involvement As The Key To Effective Budget Process – By AbdurRahman Dutsin-ma 

A friend once told me a story of a wonderful gift that he will never forget. Few days to his marriage, a friend of his visited him and asked him whether there was a shop in the town where good brocades are sold. He took him to the right shop. On getting there, he asked him to help him in choosing three good materials that if he were the buyer will go for. Unknown to his intention, he chooses for him three good colours and said, for me, I have seen no better materials than these. The man paid and the materials were packed for them. When they came out of the shop, he gave him the bag and said take this as my gift for the groom! He was amazed. To appreciate such a surprising gift, he instantly took the materials to his tailor and asked him to suspend all other materials earlier given and make sure that he sewed these new ones for him to wear one of them on the wedding day. For him, the most impressive thing on the gift was it was based on his choice.

Even in our respective homes, members cooperate more on decisions they were involve before being taken by the head of the family. A father may decide to buy clothing materials for his children without involving them in the choice. Though the children would appreciate such gesture, but they would be more impressed if they were initially taken to the market or shop and be given choice of the colour and type of material they prefer better.

Opportunity for making choice is important everywhere; budget inclusive. In an ideal situation government budget should begins with public consultation. Citizens are the primary stakeholders of a budget and therefore, their views matters a lot on what the government should do for them through budget implementation. This will make the budget acceptable and even endear the government to the people as generally, citizens admire a system that recognize their voice in making policies and programs that pertain their live.

At the beginning of every financial year, the government is expected to conduct issues generation programs to afford citizens opportunities for making their inputs in the government’s budget proposal. These activities could be town hall meetings, media programs especially live programs where people can make calls and tell the needs of their communities, constituency engagements by elected representatives and many ways of direct and indirect contact with the people. In generating issues for inclusion into budget, media plays important role. Live programs, documentaries, public interviews and other programs can be used by media to give people voice for communicating their needs to the government for inclusion into budget.

At the national level, members of the National Assembly can organize town hall meetings with different focus groups at the beginning of every year and get the views of their constituents on what should be in the constituency intervention projects of the law makers.

In most cases, government generate issues during electioneering campaigns. However, the society is dynamic and the needs of the people changes over time. A community problem of today may change by tomorrow hence the need for refreshed engagement with the people at the every year to obtain emerging issues of the various communities within the state or country to guide government’s choice of the contents and projects of its budget document.

When budget proposal is presented to the National or State Assembly, the House usually through its Appropriation Committee conducts public hearing on the budget proposal to generate inputs from citizens. This serves as a window for public participations in the budget legislation process. Civil society groups, Professional organizations, trade unions and other organized groups are mostly invited by the House at the time of public hearing to present their views on the content of the proposed budget. However, to make public hearing effective, the proposed budget needs to be made available to the public before the public hearing to enable the interesting groups and individuals gain access to the content of the budget for constructive and meaningful contributions.

At the time of budget execution, every citizen has a role to play by monitoring implementation. This can be done by visiting the projects sites, observing the quality of works and giving feedback to the government on the projects. Media can support the monitoring process by amplifying the voice and views of the public on the projects being implemented by the government in their localities.

Public responses at the time of budget implementation provide feedback to the government on its projects and programs. It also assesses the level of public acceptance to the activity and by extension, guides future implementation of similar activities.

Evaluation of budget performance largely depends on public views. These views can be generated through media interviews, positions of Civil Society groups, reports of legislative oversight and many other public related medium. These views are important in assessing the quality and acceptability of implemented projects or programs as well as guide government in making subsequent budgets.

Public participation in budgeting makes budget effective, minimize wastages and enable government meet the needs of the people in with little resources. Government budget is meant to serve people, as such; the public needs to be fully involved in what is meant for them. Public participation leads to public ownership of government activities and when people take ownership of government projects, they support the government in the maintenance and preservation of the projects.

As the government budget goes online, opportunity for monitoring and tracking implementation has been given for all the interested citizens. It is hoped that, the public will make a very good use of this opportunity!

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