NIGERIA Legal framework for transparency • Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution, as well as other laws and regulations, provide a framework for budget planning, enactment, implementation and monitoring. • However, the existing legal framework is inadequate and includes contradictory and ambiguous provisions. There is a need for a comprehensive, over-arching budget law to replace obsolete laws and decrees. • The Constitution gives authority to the National Assembly to determine government expenditure. Yet it does not call for parliamentary approval of government revenue or financing plans. The Constitution is also silent on the amendment powers of the Legislatures and on appropriate timeframes for budget debate and approval. • There is no law that specifies what documents are to accompany the budget or how and when budget information is to be disseminated. Similarly, there is no requirement to release information on actual in-year spending, procurement, public assets and liabilities. • The legal framework does not provide for public participation in the budget process. Clarity of roles and responsibilities • Even though the Constitution defines roles and responsibilities in the budget process, these are not clear in practice. Multiple institutions have similar and over-lapping responsibilities over budget preparation, management and monitoring. • There is duplication of budget-related responsibilities within the Executive and amongst the three tiers of government. When poor budget performance affects service delivery to citizens, this leaves loop-holes and confusion around who is to be held accountable. • It is not clear exactly how authority over government budgeting is divided between the Executive and the Legislature. The constitutional provisions in this regard can be interpreted in different ways, leading to frequent frictions and undue delays. • Roles and responsibilities for budget monitoring and evaluation are poorly coordinated amongst the various institutions, ministries and departments. Public availability of information • The budget process in Nigeria is closed and shrouded in mystery. Budget planning is conducted by non-elected public officers who are not accessible to citizens. • No pre-budget statement, setting out government’s policy objectives and macro-economic outlook, is made available to the Legislatures or the public for consideration and debate. • Available budget information is not comprehensive or user-friendly. In general, information on actual spending by government is irregular, incoherent and inadequate. • The reliability of budget information is questionable, marked by significant discrepancies between projected and actual expenditure. • Budget information is not explicitly linked to policy objectives and rarely includes measurable targets or a clear overview of assumptions and priorities. Capacity and systems in the budget process • Capacity at all levels of government remains a major challenge for improved budgeting. The Department of Finance’s Budget Office and the Office of the Auditor General both have critical responsibilities within the budget process. Yet both are hamstrung by inadequate human resources, expertise, systems and tools. • The budget process is still largely manual and requires urgent modernisation to bring about more effective budget management and tracking. • To strengthen its oversight role in the budget process, the National Assembly needs greater capacity to undertake research and analysis. The planned establishment of a Legislative Budget Office is a positive development. • The processes and instruments for the division of revenue amongst the tiers of government lack clarity and transparency. Management of extra-budgetary activities • Nigeria has a large public enterprise sector. Even so, there is no consistent legal framework governing the management or monitoring of extra-budgetary funds. • Both the Accountant General and the Auditor General have access to the books and accounts of extra-budgetary trust funds. However, they have no real authority in this regard as extra-budgetary activities fall outside the scope of their constitutional mandates. • Information about extra-budgetary funds is not readily available to the public or the Legislatures. For some funds, records are kept independently by separate government agencies without any form of reconciliation. Participation in the budget process • Civil society and the Legislatures are entirely excluded from participation in budget planning. There is no way for civil society to communicate its needs and concerns to government as it prepares the budget. • Civil society, the organised private sector and the media have some opportunities to attend budget readings and hearings during the legislative phase. However, there is currently no real scope or time for these role-players to make substantial contributions to the budget debate within the Legislatures. • Poor access to and quality of budget information further undermines the ability of civil society and the media to research, monitor and comment on government budgeting. The role of donor funding • Donor agencies have more opportunities than civil society to participate in the budget process. They often engage directly with the Executive around strategies for the implementation of donor funding. • Donors also play an active part in budget monitoring, using their own independent capacity to track the implementation of grants and loans. BUDGET TRANSPARENCY & PARTICIPATION IN NIGERIA The research in Nigeria was conducted by Oshuwa Gbadebo-Smith. Oshuwa is a managing consultant with Harriet Davidson Consulting, Nigeria.
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