Civil Society Organizations, Traditional Rulers, Persons with disabilities, Members of the Organized Private Sector amongst others have been opportune to give their inputs to the 2020 National Budget.
The groups gave their submissions during the Public Hearing of the Appropriation Bill which was jointly set up by the Senate and House of Representatives.
Some of the Citizen groups were sponsored by Partnership to Engage Reform and Learn, a DFID Funded Project in partnership with Open Alliance.
The group already developed a Memorandum which captured the three areas of interest to the National Assembly; The 2020 Budget: Overcoming the Challenges of Infrastructural Deficit for Sustained Development; Managing Nigeria’s Recurrent Expenditure Profile : The 2020 Budget and the Way Forward; and The Revenue Component of the 2020 Budget : Problems and Prospects.
While declaring the two-day public hearing open, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan explained that the public hearing was aimed at accommodating the suggestions and inputs of critical stakeholders with a view to adding value to legislation through the channels of inclusion and public engagement.
He added that the successful implementation of a nation’s annual budget depends on increased participation by stakeholders, and awareness and education of citizens.
The lawmaker noted that the importance of the budget proposal in national development cannot be overemphasised, stressing that was the reason why inputs have to be all-inclusive.
“We understand that the budget proposal is about fiscal targets, resource allocation, public expenditure policy, productivity, and efficiency. We also understand that the process is one of passage, mobilisation, and execution.
“For them to work well, however, we have to have increased participation, which also amounts to empowerment in the realm of information, awareness, and education,” Lawan said.
He added, “An improved understanding most times comes through the exchange of ideas. It comes in a process of agreement and disagreement. Better awareness or expansion of thoughts could also come through purposeful interactions.
“Other than this is the fact that public hearing is a legislative tool of participation. Through it, we engage with critical stakeholders and the public, either separately or collectively. The overall essence is not just engagement or consultation, but also for the greater good of the people.”
The Senate President stated that the collective decision of the ninth Assembly to revert to the January-December budget cycle as provided in the 1999 Constitution as amended stemmed from the need to achieve a predictable economic framework for Nigeria. He said the present budget cycle in operation created problems of planning and implementation in the nation’s economic framework.