Thursday February 09, 2023

Public participation in budgeting process stressed

By Our Correspondent
November 26, 2022

LAHORE:A seminar on “State of Open and Transparent Budgeting in Pakistan” was held on Friday. The moot was organised by Citizens’ Network for Budget Accountability (CNBA) in collaboration with CPDI (Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives) at Lahore. The speakers stressed transparency in budgeting process and said public participation in the process was the right of citizens and the budget should be considered a public document. They urged the government to take immediate steps to improve the budgeting process.

Former Federal Information Commissioner Zahid Abdullah said people had the right to know where their money was being spent and what plans were being made for their welfare. “The budget is kept away from the public like a secret document in most departments of Pakistan. There is need to digitise budget documents.”

He said it was no less than a tragedy that government departments were still reluctant to provide information to the public, but he hoped that it would improve in the future. He said it was the responsibility of government departments to ensure active disclosure of information.

Earlier, Faisal Manzoor, Project Manager of CPDI, while presenting the contents of the CPDI’s third annual report on the “State of Budget Transparency in Pakistan”, said a lot of work needs to be done regarding budget transparency at the federal and provincial levels.

There is a need for timely completion of its various stages, preparation of the budget according to the budget rules and ensure transparency in the budget documents. Strong legislation is needed for public participation in budget making process.

Sardarzada Syed Zulfiqar Haider Shah, Ex-Vice Chairman, Zila Council Chiniot, Malik Fakhar Iqbal Tiwana, Ex-Chairman MC Mitha Tiwana Khushab, said the district governments were not taken into confidence during budgeting and its distribution to the districts. Especially, during the planning of development projects, the ground realities and the needs of the areas should be considered, which is sorely lacking. The budget document needs to be made easier for the local representatives to understand. He said LGs received budgets prepared by government officials and LGs representatives had no option to amend or revise it.

Representative of LG&CD Khizr Hayat said budgeting could be done only with the participation of public representatives. Zaryan, representative of the Industries Department, said most of the information related to his department was available on website, from which people could benefit.

Fareeha Younis, representative of Chamber of Commerce Lahore called for gender-based budgeting in order to bring the neglected communities into the mainstream. A large number of women, including representatives of various NGOs and departments, journalists attended the seminar.