BY CHIGOZIE UZOSIKE
In line with ensuring that Imo State key into the open and participatory system, the House of Assembly has expressed assurance that communities prioritized needs will be captured in the 2018 budget.
Speaking during the advocacy meeting of the Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social, CCIDESOR with Citizens Accountability Assembly CAA to the Chairman, House Committee on Budget and Appropriation and member representing Orlu state constituency, the Head of Service and the Clerk of the House, Hon. Marcel Odunze, Calistus Ekenze and Barr. Chris Duru respectively, the Program Director of CCIDESOR, Chidi Igwe noted that the visit was to thank them for participating in the Open Budget Stakeholders Forum held recently.
He hinted that the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are willing to partner the House, Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs and the Executive to ensure that Imo state key into the open and participatory budget system. He posited that the role of the House in pushing for open budget cannot be over-emphasized.
Continuing, Igwe stressed that there is need for the Budget Office/House to develop means of integrating citizens inputs in the budget process, making the annual budget accessible, uploading the budget in the state website, identifying the communities’ needs as product of communities’ engagement with MDAs and that the communities should actively get involved in the public hearing where their inputs will be harnessed. He called on the lawmaker, Head of Service and the Clerk to push for open and participatory budget process to take the state to greater level.
In their remarks, Hon. Marcel Odunze, Ekenze and Duru respectively noted that the needs of the community members being captured in the budget will not only bring community development it will also according to them ensure that communities get what they really need, adding that the CSOs partnership will always help in providing the needed technical support. They surmised that all efforts are on top gear to ensure that the budget becomes open and participatory, especially that it will drive good governance, transparency and accountability home.
In their contributions, the Convener, Journalists Against Corruption (COJAC), Chigozie Uzosike and Tony Ayoka, of Habitat Care encouraged the community members to speedily prioritize their needs for submission, when the need arises, adding that when the needs of the communities are inputted in the budget, they owe up the projects that will be sited in their areas. They hinted that no state develops without open budget process, stressing that other states of the southeast are moving faster because of the presence of international funders/donors.