Imo 3rd Out Of 36 States, 1st In SE In World Bank Open/Transparent Budgetary System (OBS) Ranking – Commissioner C. C. Osuala

— Publishes First Ever Citizens’ Budget

— Wins Grants of over 7 Million US Dollars from world Bank on OBS.

Imo State government has been ranked 1st in South East and 3rd Out of 36 states in the country following the feats recorded in open/Transparent Budget System according to World Bank rankings.

The world Bank funds the open budgeting systems in some developing countries like Nigeria to encourage citizens to fully partake and participate in the decision making process of siting projects in their various communities. In this way, the world Bank encourages the citizens to “take ownership responsibility and understand the usefulness of these government projects towards their economic sustainability”.

It is worthy to note that prior the coming of the 3R administration of Gov. Hope Uzodimma, Imo State ranked a distant 33rd out of 36 states due to the secrecy and voodoo budgeting system that characterized the Okorocha era before this government came on board.

The governor, determined to rewrite the ugly trend of voodoo economics in abracadabra budget system appointed a renowned economist in the person of Rt. Hon. C. C. Osuala PhD to drive his vision of economic shared prosperity and open up the budget system to all Imolite as the commissioner for budget, economic planning and statistics.

Dr. Osuala swung into action, worked round the clock even at the heat of the Covid-19 scourge to break the jinx of failure and adopted the world bank’s recommended Open/Participatory Budgetary System by publishing the first ever citizens’ Budget, uploaded the 2020 state approved budget, first quarter budget implementation report/appraisal and 2020 budget stakeholders forum and 2020 revised budget.

In total compliance of the world bank standards of publishing the state’s budget in a local language as a way of getting more locals involved in the budgetary system of the state government; Imo State government was the first in the whole of South East to publish her citizens budget in English and Igbo Languages and next to Kaduna state to achieve such feat in the whole of the nation.

The citizens’ Budget is an appropriation instrument supported by the world Bank to encourage the enforcement of State Financial Transparency, Accountability, Sustainability (SFTAS) program in all the states in Nigeria. The overall aim of this program is to booster public confidence in the implementation of budgetary systems of the state government as well as citizen’s instruments of tracking public expenditures.

By meeting the SFTAS program of the world Bank which includes open and participatory budgetary systems which is about open government partnership; the government did priority projects and accomplished citizens’ Budget. By this, the state government won 300,000 US dollars in grants and when the budget was translated in Igbo Language, additional 500,000 US Dollars were won and when the auditor’s reports were published on the budget implementation, Imo State government got another 1.5 Million US dollars as prize money.

In summary – the state government, by strict implementation of world bank’s SFTAS program on open budgetary system; a total of 2.3 Million US dollars were won in grants for the 2020 fiscal year.

Governance, like I wrote in one of my op-eds, is not all about brick and mottar approach as there are many intangibles as this that constitutes even greater indexes in the governance affairs of a particular government.

During the hit of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 budget was reviewed downward of 30% due to the adverse effects of the scourge as bilateral discussions were held with the concerned ministries, MDAs as provisions were made to allocate 10 to 15% to Covid-19 expenditure in the budget.

This ingenuity of the 3R government earned the state government an accolade from world Bank evaluators who gave Imo the best position with a free grant of 5 million US dollars.

In total, over 7 Million US dollars have been made by the state ministry of budget, economic planning and statistics.

Before now, this ministry was purely an administrative block of the government and more or less the Coordinating ministry of all the ministries and was never known as a revenue generation ministry but with Dr. C. C. Osuala at the helm directing proceedings and striking the right cords, the ministry do not only carry out its primary responsibilities of supervision and coordination of other ministries but also now generates revenue to the purse of the state.

One good thing about the transparency in the budgetary system of the state government currently adopted by Governor Uzodimma; the citizens, irrespective of where they may be at any point in time can contribute to the budgetary processes of the state government and can also track the implementation and public expenditures.

This is the more reason the world Bank through the SFTAS program is encouraging open and participatory budgetary systems to afford the citizens of any state government the opportunity and access to have a say in the affairs of the state government irrespective of any barrier posed by distance.

In Imo State for instance, Imolite can visit the state government’s website on www.imostate.gov.ng to fully participate in the budgetary processes.

With the introduction of the citizens’ Budget by this 3R administration published in both English and Igbo Languages – Imolites, irrespective of wherever they may be residing can take part in the type of budget, budget glossary, procedures of preparation of a budget, budget assumptions, approved size, how government gets the fund, available aids and grants, recurrent expenditure, capital expenditure and projects target for each appropriation year.

Now with SFTAS in full force in the state and with the publication of citizens’ Budget in Igbo and English languages, Imo people can know about the project estimated amount and project locations.

You can know any project budgeted for in your village or local area and those funded. You will now have the right to query why a budgeted and funded project in your locality has not been built because the world Bank and other independent international organizations are part in the supervisions of these projects as budgeted for in any fiscal year.

“Budget is the engine that guides the activities of the government and it is just a written plan that details the financial goals of the government for a future period as regards revenue and expenditure”.

However, to make the rural dwellers feel the impact of government at the grassroot level, this is why citizens’ Budget has become very important to contribute to the indices of good governance as funded and supervised by the world bank through the implementation of the State Financial Transparency, Accountability, Sustainability (SFTAS).