Oct 23, 2009, 11:11 AM
Giving citizens the opportunity to participate in budget preparation is essential for development, and the fight against poverty and corruption, she added.
By monitoring their governments’ budget, citizens can help to ensure the country is stable and its affairs directed in an efficient manner.
The Citizens Budget is one of the mechanisms that engender participation and good governance in public finance management, she went on.
Undertaking the process also facilitates consultation with citizens, and enhances public understanding and ownership of the budget through the provision of information about the budget.
It also serves the government in a number of ways, and is an opportunity for the government to enhance public knowledge about the budget, Ms Lekoetje continued, adding that it is a medium through which the government can communicate its perspective to a broad audience.
The process could also allow the government to explain the rationale behind the choice in putting the budget together, she noted, adding that the Citizens Budget is also a way of encouraging the people themselves to participate in a range of government affairs.
The Citizens Budget appropriation and the annual budget can be an invaluable tool in helping to initiate and obtain positive dialogue between the government and its citizenry.
The importance of this initiative has been widely recognised including by the IMF in its 2007 manual on fiscal transparency in which it encourages a clear and simple presentation from summary to the budget.
The UNDP official also seized the opportunity to declare that the UNDP is happy to be part of the exercise, and looks forward to working with the government in institutionalising consultation with the citizens on budget preparation, execution and monitoring.
She also commended the Gambia government through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs for taking the bold step to create space for public participation in the budgeting process.
“I commend the government, particularly the Honourable Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, for this bold step of accountability to its citizens.
“I am sure that this document will enhance government-citizen dialogue on national policy and plans and in reflecting the priority and needs of the people.
“It will also provide the government a platform to account for what it has done to implement the policy and plans and, as a result of its effort, citizens on their part would be able to exercise their responsibility to hold the government to account,” the UNDP representative said.