COVID-19: CISLAC designs roadmap to help FG on efficient public finance management

Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), says it has designed a roadmap to help Nigeria in the management of funds received so far in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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CISLAC’s Executive Director, Auwal Rafsanjani made this known while presenting the report in Abuja on Wednesday.

According to him,  the roadmap has becaoe imperative as there is the need for government at all levels to improve on financial management in the wake of the economic challenges caused by COVID-19.

Rafsanjani said that the issues had become even more complicated with the crash in oil prices affecting the 2020 Appropriation Act and stimulating borrowing and loans from external and internal sources.

The roadmap recommended that to achieve serious development, there was also the need for government both at national and sub-national to imbibe a progressive expenditure pattern by allocating more resources to capital expenditure.

This according to him is in consideration of the important role capital expenditure plays in engendering socio-economic development in the country.

“There is need to increase budgetary allocation to key sectors of the economy such as education, health, infrastructure, and food sufficiency.

“The principle behind the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires government spending to be inclusive, far-reaching and all-encompassing.

“Government spending should focus majorly on improving the quality of universal public education and this can be achieved by allocating at least 20 per cent of the public budget to improve access to quality education.

“There is a need to strengthen the public health sector by increasing resource allocation to the tune of 15  per cent of the annual budget.

“The imperativeness of this can be seen in the current need to improve public health services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to the roadmap, the ability of a country to address such challenges in the future depends on its present spending to develop the health sector.

It said that government needed to ensure the transparency of the public procurement system by providing a timely and adequate degree of transparency in each phase of the public procurement circle.

It also suggested that government should ensure transparency of the flow of public funds, from the beginning of the budgeting process throughout the public procurement cycle to allow stakeholders and the citizens to understand government spending priority.

It said that government at all levels should develop an inclusive public finance framework with a clear resource mobilisation plan that looked beyond oil revenue.

According  to the recommendations,  the framework should make provision for the diversification of oil revenue beyond sales of crude oil and other accruable rent.

“More importantly, there is the need for Nigeria crude products to be refined locally, and that entails ensuring holistic overhaul of the nation’s four refineries to function in full capacity and possible building of new ones.

“This will prevent the loss of huge resources due to crude swapping,” it said

According  to the roadmap,  the Federal  Government should ensure the efficient management of the oil sector through the passage, assent, and functioning of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, as well as other components, particularly the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill.

It said this would bring an end to the porous resource mobilisation and management regime that dominated the oil sector.

It further said there was also the need to review all the MoU governing Nigeria oil sector relationships and tax agreements in order to do away with obsolete laws for Nigeria to harness the potential of its oil tax revenue.

The roadmap also recommended the  adoption of a participatory budgeting systems that allowed for the needs and aspirations of the citizens to be captured in the budgeting process.

This, it said was because active citizens’ participation at all stages of budgeting ensured open budgeting and allows for effective budget implementation.

It said that government at all levels should as a matter of policy increase public spending to develop infrastructure in education, health, and other critical sectors. (NAN)

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