THE BENEFITS OF INCLUSIVE BUDGET TOWN HALL MEETINGS FOR OUR NIGER DELTA COMMUNITIES
Despite enormous annual budgetary allocation and extensive development assistance, the number of people who are classified as poor in the
Niger Delta region has continued to grow. Democratic governance is important, but economic governance is fundamentally important to
economic and social rights.
Citizens need to examine the national and state development budgets in detail, and hold their elected officials accountable for the development
projects they promised. Accountability at the Local Governments’ level cannot also be forgotten.
Town Hall Meetings serves to:
· Inform community stakeholders of capital projects within their communities
· Obtain critical information about the levels of implementation of these projects.
· Increase the likelihood of greater citizen’s participation in the budget making process.
· Identify challenges to citizen’s participation in the budget process, through direct interaction with the community stakeholders and brainstorm on possible solutions to these obstacles with a Civil Society Organization (NDEBUMOG) serving as a bridge for inclusion between the communities and government.
· It is necessary to involve community stakeholders to follow up on monitoring projects, which we identify as uncompleted or ongoing in our budget tracking exercise.
· Greater participation by community members in the budget making process is necessary to ensure that the projects meet the needs of the community. Government agencies need to integrate the community and the civil society generally into their fiscal planning and blueprints for realistic and better service delivery.
· Greater participation of women must be encouraged to ensure that budgets are gender sensitive
· Community stakeholders need capacity building on the budget processes
Budget expenditure tracking refers to monitoring expenditure. It can be looked at vertically (i.e. how does the money flow through the system from
national to state to local government level?), or horizontally (how are disbursements made at one point in the system; are they regular and spent as planned?).
For either type of budget tracking, the focus is on whether the money is spent as detailed in the plan. If not, why not? Where does it go?
Budget tracking can also link to an evaluation of the impact of a particular budget on different groups of the population.