Nigeria slipped into 90th place behind Zimbabwe and Afghanistan in the global Open Budget index released on Thursday.
Nigeria’s score on the open budget index dipped from 24 in 2015 to 17. In Africa, Nigeria currently ranks 23 behind Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Liberia.
Among the African countries, South Africa led on the index and was closely followed by Uganda, Senegal, Ghana, Namibia, Kenya, Morocco, and Egypt, in that order.
The Open Budget Index assesses the comprehensiveness and timeliness of budget information that governments make publicly available.
Owing to this, BudgIT, a civic organisation, expressed dismay at Nigeria’s current position on fiscal transparency and public participation in the budget process.
The organisation noted in a statement yesterday that Africa’s largest economy had “apparently taken steps backwards despite persistent advocacy by citizens and repeated promises by the government to improve.”
According to BudgIT, the federal government of Nigeria provides her citizens with insufficient budget information making it difficult for taxpayers to understand how elected officials utilise available resources.
In addition, it argued that the country’s budget process takes very little feedback from the public, and the final budget document does not reveal how the meagre feedbacks are used.
“Nigeria’s low rank can be connected to the failure of the federal government to produce the mid-year review. Also, the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Budget Implementation Reports were published late while the content of all budget documents produced in Nigeria falls short on the minimum acceptable global standards as itemised in the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency Framework,” it added.
Therefore, BudgIT urged the federal government to improve the timeliness of the release of its essential budget documents and run an open budget system.
It noted that it was also vital that Nigeria improves on the comprehensiveness of the critical budget documents, including the MTEF, the Budget Implementation Reports, the executive budget proposal, the enacted budget and the year-end report.
“Nigeria also needs to produce and publish a mid-year review of fiscal activities in line with the minimum global standard in budgeting. There is also an urgent need for a structured participatory mechanism designed to capture views of the public throughout the budget cycle,” it added. – Thisday.