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Citizens’ participation in budget-making process urged

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SHANGLA: Participants in a seminar in Shangla urged transparency and citizens’ participation in the budget-making process a district level in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a study report revealed transparency and citizen’s participation in the budget-making process was found lacking at the district level in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
A seminar was organized by Center for peace and development initiative CPDI here at Bisham on Wednesday, which was attended by members of local government, social activists, village secretaries and other local people.
“District Government Budget Rules 2016”, transparency and citizens’ participation in the budget-making the process at the district level in KP. The first draft of the district budget should be presented in April to ensure timely input from citizens,” said Raja Shoaib Akbar, Senior Programme Manager at the CPDI, while sharing the details of the study with partner organizations.
He said that CPDI had conducted a budget study which has revealed transparency and citizen’s participation in the budget-making process was found lacking at the district level in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
He added that budget Call letters were delayed; consultation with relevant stake holders not held, only two districts had functional websites and 85 posts remained vacant in district budget branches while in 10 districts deputy officer planning seat vacant during last fiscal year.
Shamsul Hadi Provincial Coordinator KP Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) said that Budget is the most important policy document of the government, in the modern day, state policies are supposed to be formulated through active public participation.
Divulging the details, he said the local governments (LGs) had failed to include stakeholders in the budget-making process.
He said none of the districts released pre-budget statement that according to the budget rules was mandatory and would have provided the stakeholders a chance to express their opinion on budget proposals.
Pre-budget consultation with stakeholders was also not held in 30 per cent of districts. These consultations were mainly held with district officers and elected representatives, ignoring citizens and other segments of society that are listed as stakeholders in LG Budget Rules, he added.
According to budget rules Budget Call Letter (BCL) must be issued in September as first step of district budget making.
He said the study was showed only six district had issued the BCL till November 15, last year while 02 others had not initiated it till March 31, this year. Only eight districts were able to approve own budget before June 30, 2018, he added.
Shamsul hadi further added about budget transparency, districts are not making use of information technology to share information with citizens; only two districts have own functional websites. Amongst them, only one has posted district budget of the last three years at its website.
He said the study said to aggravate the situation, not a single district issued a citizens budget which was meant to share the salient features of a final budget with citizens in easy to understand language.
According to CPDI officials the study revealed the budget branches in districts faced scarcity of human resource. Only 350 officials were posted in the budget branches of districts visited while total number of sanctioned positions was 435.
They added that 10 districts did not have DDO Planning. This situation partially explained the reasons for delays in budget timelines at district level, he added.
Survey on budget making process was conducted by member organizations of ‘Citizens’ Network for Budget Accountability (CNBA)’ in 26 districts of KP
The CNBA is a network of 15 civil society organizations working for budget reforms and accountability at district level in KP.
Ihsanullah, a village nazim from Dehrai said on the occasion admitted that they had not called any consultation meeting with the general public in the last four years.
“We don’t have knowledge about the district budget as we were kept deprived from that information just received our share which official told them that sum is your share of respective village council,” Naib Khan, a councilor from Koz Batkot pointed out.
Sher Afghan, a village nazim from Chakesar said they could do nothing without getting proper training about the rules, making budge process and utilizing of their funds, they are blinds in this regards.

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