In line with its objective of encouraging open and transparent budgets in states of the Niger Delta, Social Action’s Open Budget Cluster on the 15th of September 2016 carried out a Government-Citizens Consultative Meeting on Open Budgets. The event which held in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital specifically aimed at making budgets and other fiscal document available and accessible to citizens. Participants at the event were drawn from communities, youth organizations and other civil society organizations, as well as a selection of government duty bearers including agencies responsible for proactive disclosure of fiscal information.
In his presentation, Programme Officer of Social Action Mr. Prince Ekpere emphasized the need for citizens to have access to key fiscal information as a routine practice. “The type of development and progress we dream of in Bayelsa state may not be possible if there is no synergy and partnership between those entrusted with public trust and citizens. A key strategy is making information available to citizens and creating channels for public participation in all fiscal governance processes. It needs to start with making the budget available”.
On a transparency and openness index recently concluded by Social Action, States of the Niger Delta scored very low on open budget practices.
The event was attended by two government officials from the Due process office and the budget office.
Some of the participants had this to say, MrIgonikon, a media practitioner said ‘’public officials have personalized their public offices making it difficult for them to be accountable. He also said ‘’ there is dishonesty in the way the Bayelsa government runs its public business and the budget is not avaible and accessible to citizens
Comrade Walson ‘’ There is no transparency from the inception of the budget process to the implementation.
Dr Charles ‘’ for budget to be effective and impactful they must be inclusive, transparent and open’’
Pastor Harold Moses’’ Open budget practice should be institutionalized and back by law’’
Benita Opia’’ Open budget practice should also include presenting a budget implementation report that citizens can also access.
Mr Robinson ‘’ the budget process in Bayelsa State is still shrouded in secrecy and confidentiality, access is still difficult despite the various laws backing citizens rights to access such information.
Citizens committed to Advocacy and Engagement activities to persuade the government into practice of responsible prudent fiscal procedures