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FG to launch Citizens Budget Portal for transparency

In an effort to improve Nigeria’s position in the International Budget Partnership (IBP) index, which still remain as low as 24 out of 100, the federal government has vowed to put together all necessary mechanisms including launching a citizens budget portal that will ensure openness and transparency in the budget process soon.

Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja at the workshop on Budget Transparency and Accountability, organised by Collaborative Africa Budget Research Initiative (CABRI) in conjunction with the Budget Office of the Federation (BOF) for some selected directors from Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs), civil society groups and other stakeholders.

Mr. Udom who said that the present administration was committed to engendering greater transparency budget preparation process and participation, regrettable that Nigeria is still ranked lower than some of the African countries in budget openness and citizens participation.

“A Citizens Budget Portal would soon be launched so that Nigerian citizens can access budget information as well as engage government effectively on budget issues on-line. This technology-based platform will provide reliable, timely, easily understandable and accessible budget information to Nigerian citizens and other interested parties.

“According to the 2015 Open Budget Survey for Nigeria, published by the International Budget Partnership (IBP), Nigeria’s Open Budget Index Score is 24 out of 100. This is a measure of our transparency level, and is regrettably quite low when compared with other African countries like South Africa which scored 86, Malawi 65, and Uganda 62,” Udoma said.

In the same vein, the Minister of State, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, said that the workshop was organised to enhance more comprehensive and better Public Financial Management (PFM) as part of the ongoing reforms of the present administration.

Ahmed also stated that the government intend to use the Open Government Partnership (OGP) mechanisms to up scale it’s fight against corruption, through fiscal transparency and Citizens Engagement in budget processes.

Meanwhile, the Director General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze said that Nigeria having joined other countries in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) was a testament that the country was fully prepared to depart from the ugly past when everything about the budget was shrewd in secrecy.

He noted that Nigeria joining Open Government Partnership (OGP), a global coalition and multi-stakeholders initiative, with focus on improving transparency, accountability, citizens participation and responsiveness in the budget processes was a good omen needed to boost government’s fight against corruption.

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