IBP release Open Budget Index result 2013

  • Scores Nigeria low
  • Recommends budget office for NASS and strengthening of the Auditor General’s office

The transformation agenda of the Federal government and its effort at improving Nigeria’s economy and image before the international investors and credit rating agencies have suffered a major setback as the International Budget Partnership (IBP) in Washington D.C releases its 2012 Open Budget Index, scoring Nigeria, a paltry 16% out of 100%.

According to the International Budget Partnership, the biennial survey which commenced in 2006 assesses whether the central government in each country surveyed makes eight key budget documents available to the public, as well as whether the data contained in these documents is comprehensive, timely, and useful.

The survey uses internationally accepted criteria to assess each country’s budget transparency developed by multilateral organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI). The scores on 95 of the 125 Open Budget Survey questions are used to calculate objective scores and rankings of each surveyed country’s relative transparency. These composite scores constitute the Open Budget Index (OBI),

The International Budget Partnership is the world’s only independent and comparative measure of budget transparency. Nigeria’s score of 16% is a show of consistent descent in the transparent process expected of governments in the management of public resources. This score is below the 18% percent Nigeria notched in 2010, 19% in 2008 and 20%, the oil-rich country attained in 2006. It is a very poor performance when compared with the average score of 43% for all the 100 countries surveyed. It is also lower than the scores of its neighbours-Ghana, Liberia, Sao-Tome and Principe and Sierra- Leone.

The IBP report, which is available to the media, says that Nigeria’s score indicates that the government provides the public with scant information on the national government’s budget and financial activities during the course of the budget year. This makes it challenging for citizens to hold the government accountable for its management of the public’s money.

This is not cheering for Nigeria’s declared commitment to transparency in budget implementation. Nigeria’s contemporaries in the comity of nations like India, Ghana, Kenya, Brazil, South Africa, and Uganda scores are 68, 50, 49, 73, 90 and 65 respectively. The report called Nigeria’s consistent decline on the rating in the past three rounds of Open Budget Survey “alarming”, but however, recommends that Nigeria should introduce a number of measures some of which can be achieved very quickly and at almost no cost to the government.

The IBP recommends that Nigeria should:

  • Publish the Mid-Year Review and Audit Report, both of which are currently produced for internal use only.
  • Produce and publish a Citizens Budget
  • Increase the comprehensiveness of the Pre-Budget Statement specifically by providing extensive explanations of the government’s budget policies and priorities with both a narrative discussion and quantitative estimates.
  • Increase the comprehensiveness of the Executive’s Budget proposal, specifically by focusing on providing information on expenditure for the year by program, using functional classification of data; projection of future expenditures beyond the fiscal year and the previous year’s expenditure estimates.
  • The legislature should have a specialized budget research office to assist it with budget analysis, a committee of the legislature should scrutinize all audit reports, and executive should present its budget proposal to the legislature at least six weeks, but ideally three months, before the start of the new budget year.
  • The Supreme Audit Institution (Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation) should have skilled staff designated to undertake audits of the central government agencies that handle the security sector.

Ms. Oby Nwankwo
Executive Director

Prince (Engr.) Ralph Ndigwe
Consultant

Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) Nigeria

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