Late last year, the Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano, presented a budget estimate of N101.4 billion for the 2016 fiscal year to the Anambra State House of Assembly. It was tagged, '' Budget for efficiency, optimisation, productivity and job creation''.
According to the presentation culled from This Day, the governor said the amount represented a significant decrease of 38 per cent over the 2015 budget estimate, adding that the decrease stressed the need for prioritisation and doing more with less in the 2016 fiscal year.
Out of the estimated amount, the governor said capital expenditure was projected at N52.8 billion, while recurrent expenditure would be N48.6 billion.
Those figures, he explained implied a capital to recurrent expenditure ratio of 52.48 per cent as against 67.33 per cent in the current year.
The governor said his administration would during the 2016 fiscal year be totally focused and committed to aggressive development of its economic pillars and enablers and would continue to partner with the private sector to deliver on its economic objectives in the agriculture, industry, trade and commerce and oil and gas sectors.
The economic enablers he said would require a great deal of public sector-financing and support.
The sectoral allocations showed that works and infrastructure would receive N30.0 billion, education N3.0 billion, health N2.45 billion, public utilities, N1.8 billion, while agriculture and rural development were estimated to gulp N1.02billion in the state's 2016 fiscal year.
Well, we at Fides hope that the new trend of engaging members of the public to make budgetary inputs in order for their interests to be adequately represented is not only continued, but religiously implemented. We have observed that well intentioned motives often suffer from either the way they are approached or the way they are carried out.
This is why the need to adequately implement budgetary inputs by the various groups and communities is important. Down here, the Justice Development and Peace Commission, JDPC, Onitsha, has been in the forefront of the advocacy for participatory budget.
Through the Voice to the People (V2P) project, JDPC Onitsha has been engaging communities in Anambra State on how to do budget analysis. Under this, communities are trained on the drawing of charter of demand which encapsulates their needs.
These are then submitted to the government, state departments and agencies, thus ensuring that government's action departs from being supply driven and becomes demand driven.
This change came within two years of V2P intervention in the state. This intervention has created an organized catalogue of needs in government records which forms the basis for government's expenditure plan as the state embraces zero budgeting plan.
This development is a very welcome one as budgets now have more impact on the people as a result of their participation in it. This is indeed what it should be.
Therefore as the state enters the 2016 fiscal year, it is our fervent hope that the gains recently recorded in the area of government/citizens collaboration in budgeting are sustained for the overall good of the state.