Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara says his administration is committed to making the budgetary preparation process less elitist and more participatory.
AbdulRazaq said this on Tuesday in Ilorin at the inauguration of a three-phased citizens’ engagement session on 2021 budget.
He said while the contents of the budget would accommodate people’s expectations from the government, citizens’ engagement would further democratise the budget preparation process in line with the global best practices of transparency and inclusion.
“Our budgets are often too elitist and we are working in Kwara to address this. This meeting is one of such steps. We will make sure that fewer technical terms are used so that ordinary folks can understand and own the document.
“On Dec. 10, 2019, our administration organised the first ever citizens’ engagement session on budget preparation in the state.
“That engagement was meant to harvest the views of the people on what shape and direction they wanted the 2020 budget to take, while we will always seek to do more, I am proud to say that the views of our people were respected in the budget.
“We will hold the sessions across our three senatorial districts. I am proud to say that we have fulfilled that promise with this flag-off today.
“Another one is slated for Kwara North on Thursday while the third leg of the engagement will hold in Kwara South on Sept. 7,” he said.
The governor said that his administration had taken budget beyond the normal by making sure that the fiscal plan was implemented to have positive impacts on the lives of the people.
“For the first time in many years in the state, we recorded 52 per cent implementation of the capital expenditure component of the 2019 budget.”
“The closest to that in recent years was 42 per cent that was achieved in 2017.”
“Similarly, we posted a record 98 per cent implementation of the recurrent expenditure in the same budget. These underscore our commitment to infrastructural development and the welfare of the people.
“Notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruptions to the global economy, our resolve will be to beat this record.”
“We are open to collaboration. We want the people to be involved in what we do because we have nothing to hide. That is why we proposed social auditing which has now started.
“The idea is for everyone to be involved and to ensure optimum use of resources. We can come together to make public funds work for the people, and where there are infractions with any projects or contractors, we will address such,” the governor said.
AbdulRazaq said the administration was committed to transparency, probity, and community ownership of government projects, adding that the government had officially activated the social audit earlier proposed.
The Chairman, Kwara House of Assembly Committee on Finance and Appropriation, Mr Olatunji Ambali reiterated the support of the assembly to government in its bid to ensure transparency and citizen participation in budgetary process.
“Members of the 9th Assembly legislature of which I am a part of are in total support of the town hall meeting initiative which has the aim of harvesting contributions and suggestions from members of the general public and critical stakeholders in the budget preparation process.
“This strategy of openness and transparency will also afford the House of Assembly Committee on Finance and Appropriation the opportunity to have a seamless budget consideration and passage exercise. Indeed, it is a highly welcomed development,” Ambali said.
Mrs Florence Oyeyemi, the Commissioner for Finance and Planning explained that the town hall meeting was to harvest the inputs of the citizens for inclusion into the fiscal plan of the state.
Oyeyemi said the administration was determined for a better state in areas of investments in social infrastructure and human capital development.
“Since the inception of this administration over one year ago, efforts have been geared towards completion of inherited projects from the past administration and awarding of new projects covering the 16 local government areas of the state.
“These have been achieved in the areas of road construction and rehabilitation, provision of portable water to urban and rural communities, completion of secretariat office complex, tractor programme for our farmers amongst others.
“This is a testimony to this administration’s commitment to ensuring better living condition for citizens,” she said.
It was reported that among those present at the event were the Secretary, Jamaat Nasrul Islam in the state, Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmad, Methodist Bishop of Kwara, Rev. Simeon Onaleke.