NIGER DELTA BUDGET MONITORING GROUP
Transparency & Justice

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State governments have been advised to consider the idea of collaborating especially at the regional levels to tackle the current sharp reduction in revenue occasioned by the drop in global oil prices.

They have also been advised to do more in promoting accountability and transparency in government so that their activities are not carried out in secrecy.

The advice was given by 106 participants at a two-day training for Ministries, Departments and Agencies from Enugu, Delta, Lagos and Rivers States on resource mobilisation organised by the Niger Delta Budget Monitoring Group in Enugu. A copy of the training’s communique was made available to our correspondent in Abuja on Sunday.

The participants also urged state governments to ensure that taxes are used judiciously for the benefits of the people, especially the poor.

The communique read, “We encourage subnational governments to engage in intergovernmental collaboration, especially at the regional level, to provide a solid platform to overcome the current squeeze occasioned by sharp drop in revenue.

“Joint projects/programmes by subnational governments can be designed to scale up investments to cover more communities as well as ensuring increased benefits to the citizens.

” Subnational governments should develop smart strategies for formalisng the informal sector, particularly the non-oil sector. Governments need to provide active support to both SMEs and large industries, especially in the area of value chain development, in order to improve revenue mobilisation and fiscal independence.

“Subnational governments should put systems and strategies in place to ensure that our taxes work for the people, especially the poor.

“This will act as an incentive against tax avoidance. We seek tax reforms that promote an ICT database system, fair representation, transparency and progressive tax laws, policies and practices (e.g. tax to service agreements) capable of addressing poverty and inequality.

“Lagos State leadership in this respect is highly recognised and recommended for other states.”

State governments were also asked to work out strategies for improving service delivery by transforming their internal processes and providing exemplary leadership to the people.

They were urged to make their budgets participatory, people-centred and gender-sensitive.

“Subnational governments should adopt best practices in promoting transparency and accountability in governance.

“Citizens and non-citizens need to demand that the budget and other fiscal documents be made open and posted at the public domain for easy monitoring and evaluation of projects and programmes.

“Governments should optimise the potentials of ICTs in this regard,” the communique added.

SOURCE: PUNCH ONLINE

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