Peoples participation in budget making process urged

Written by The Frontier Post

Ghulam Mursalin Marwat
LAKKI MARWAT: Speakers at a seminar have stressed the need for ensuring people’s participation in budget making process, saying that the quarters concerned tasked with formulation of annual budget do not bother to conduct pre budget consultative sessions with public and their representatives.
The seminar was organized by citizen network for budget accountability (CNBA) with the support of partner organizations including community development organization (CDO) and center for peace and development initiative (CPDI) at town hall building in Lakki city on Thursday.
CDO team leader Inayatullah Khan shed light on the aims and objectives of seminar and said that the government should provide people and media with opportunities to discuss advantages and disadvantages of budget. “To pass budget from district, tehsil, village and neighbourhood councils without letting local people to know about it is against norms and relevant rules”, he told the participants. He said that people’s participation in budget making would prove helpful to make developmental program successful.
A PTI leader Dr Muhammad Iqbal said that a budget prepared without taking any inputs from people could not be termed as per the will and wishes of general public. “The annual estimates of income and expenditure prepared by clerks in their offices have no value at all as the entire process lacks any authenticity from people and their elected representatives”, he maintained.
The PTI leader regretted that the legislators as well as the members of local bodies did not know much about budget making process. “A set of documents is handed over to them and they are asked to pass it in the larger interest of people who are unaware of the entire process”, he regretted and asked the people to take advantage of Right to Information laws enacted by provincial government to get desired information about budget, its components and role of different stakeholders in budget making process.
Local bodies’ members advocate Hafiz Asif Saleem and Waheed Aslam Khan said that the relevant rules were not implemented in true spirit during the process of budget making at the grass roots level. “During the last two years it was observed that concerned government officials try to bypass conveners and get the budget passed from councils keeping the councilors in complete darkness”, they revealed. They said that people’s participation in budget making promoted sense of ownership and that the government should give citizens the right to have a say in the process.
“People have accurate knowledge about different activities especially their needs therefore they are in a best position to give their inputs in budget making”, said advocate Zafrullah Khan a member of local bar association. He asked the government to make budgetary terminologies simple and hold masses awareness sessions at village level to sensitize people about their role in budget making process. “The set goals cannot be achieved until and unless people’s participation in the entire process of budget making is ensured”, he added.
Another speaker Dr Adil Shah said that budget making was a difficult task and the government should arrange training sessions for stakeholders especially those working at district level. Mr Shah said that road infrastructure was in shabby condition in the district and the rural population was confronted with the problem of acute shortage of drinking water. “Besides ensure public participation in budget making process, the local governments should fix priorities and reflect the same in annual budget”, he added and called for effective monitoring and evaluation of budgetary expenditures on public welfare works.
Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) assistant director Faheemullah underlined the need for close coordination among different stakeholders and public sector organizations for preparation of people’s friendly budget. “The community’s groups can help motivate people at the grassroots level to enhance knowledge about their rights and responsibilities and take interest in budget making process”, he remarked. Imranullah of Qaumi Watan Party and Inamullah of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf also spoke on the occasion.

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