Wednesday July 17, 2024

Transparency & citizens participation in budget making process sought 

By Bureau report
November 15, 2017

PESHAWAR: The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has launched “Study of Budget Making Process at District Level in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa” which called for transparency and citizens’ participation in the entire exercise.

The study revealed transparency and citizens participation in budget making process was found lacking at district level in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Budget Call letters were delayed, no consultation done with stakeholders; only five districts had functional websites and 110 posts remained vacant in district budget branches.

“Safar Welfare Organization and CPDI demand adherence to the “District or City District Government Budget Rules 2016”, transparency and citizens’ participation in the budget making process at district level in KP. First draft of the district budget should be presented in April to ensure timely input from citizens,” said Raja Shoaib Akbar, Senior Programme Manager at the CPDI, while sharing the details of the study with partner organisations.

Divulging the details, he said the local governments (LGs) had failed to include stakeholders in the budget making process.

The official said none of the districts released pre-budget statement that according to the budget rules was mandatory and would have provided the stakeholders a chance to express their opinion on budget proposals.

Pre-budget consultation with stakeholders was also not held in 33 per cent of districts. These consultations were mainly held with district officers and elected representatives, ignoring citizens and other segments of society that are listed as stakeholders in LG Budget Rules, he added.

According to budget rules Budget Call Letter (BCL) must be issued in September as first step of district budget making.

The study showed only one district had issued the BCL till November 15, last year while 17 others had not initiated it till March 31, this year. Consequently, only eight districts were able to approve own budget before June 30, 2017, he added.

Talking about budget transparency at Budget Consultation Organized by Safar Welfare Organization, Raja Shoaib said districts performance was not enviable at all.

Districts are not making use of information technology to share information with citizens; only five districts have own functional websites. Amongst them, only one has posted district budget of the last three years at its website.

The study said to aggravate the situation, not a single district issued a citizens budget which was meant to share the salient features of a final budget with citizens in easy to understand language.

The study revealed the budget branches in districts faced scarcity of human resource. Only 296 officials were posted in the budget branches of districts visited while total number of sanctioned positions was 406.

In addition, 11 districts did not have DDO Planning. This situation partially explained the reasons for delays in budget timelines at district level, he added.

Earlier, while welcoming the guests Shamsul Hadi, CPDI’s Provincial Coordinator in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said that budget was the most important policy document of the government. In the modern day state policies are supposed to be formulated through active public participation.

Survey on budget making process was conducted by member organizations of ‘Citizens’ Network for Budget Accountability (CNBA)’ in 24 districts of KP while one district didn’t provide information.

The CNBA is a network of 15 civil society organizations working for budget reforms and accountability at district level in KP.