Nigeria came 65th in open budget transparency in a recent global ranking survey that was released yesterday. The Open Budget Survey 2021 showed that Nigeria scored 45 per cent in the transparency index. The 2021 survey covers 120 countries. Compared to other African countries, Nigeria came behind Ghana who scored 56, Liberia and Sierra Leone who scored 45 points respectively.
The transparency segment of the survey measures public access to information on how the central government raises and spends public resources. It assesses the online availability, timeliness, and comprehensiveness of eight key budget documents using 109 equally weighted indicators and scores each country on a scale of 0 to 100. A transparency score of 61 or above indicates a country is likely publishing enough material to support informed public debate on the budget.
However, Nigeria posted its best performance in the open budget survey, improving by 24 points for transparency in the latest Open Budget Survey. Nigeria recorded high mark, 84 points in enacted budget; citizens budget: 75 and executive pre-budget statement of 89 points.
Nigeria scored 26 per cent in public participation in the budget process. It came only behind Sierra Leone which scored about 31, showing that Nigeria is improving in public participation in the budgetary process. On budget oversight, Nigeria scored 61 per cent.
Director-general of the Budget Office of the Federation Mr Ben Akabueze, expressed joy that Nigeria is improving in the budget transparency index, admitting that there is much room for improvement. “The total transparency score of 45 in the 2021 survey, is a significant leap from the 21 scored in the 2019 survey,” the DG said at the public official launch of the Open Budget Survey 2021 report yesterday in Abuja.
The Open Budget Survey ranks countries according to their level of accountability in national budget processes. It is the world’s only comparative, independent and regular assessment of transparency, oversight and participation in national budgets in 120 countries.
Mr Akabueze said apart from ensuring a citizen-impute-budget, the federal government has also ensured timely preparation of the budget to be in line with its budget cycle.
The DG, who said the federal government remains committed to its reform agenda, disclosed that government was currently working on its third national action plan. The ministry of finance, budget and national planning oversees the fiscal responsibilities of the government.
Senior programme officer, International Budget Partnership Sally Torbert said for it to improve on the ranking table, Nigeria should prioritise the publishing of her audit report online in a timely manner to facilitate early remedial actions by appropriate institutions. “We note that Section 49 of Nigeria ’s Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 recommends this report be published no later than six months following the end of the financial year,” she said.
Torbert also said to improve budget transparency, the federal government should include in the year-end report performance information and detailed actual outcomes for expenditures. “Legislative and executive arms of government should collaborate to continue the practice of issuing updated Medium Term Fiscal Frameworks, or produce a more robust Mid-Year Review document, that includes revised projections of revenues and spending.
“Actively engage with vulnerable and underrepresented communities, directly or through civil society organizations representing them. The legislative committees examining the executive’ s Budget Proposal should publish reports with their analysis online. In practice, ensure the legislature is consulted before the executive spends any unanticipated revenue or reduces spending due to revenue shortfalls,” the International Budget Partnership said.