The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Nana Fatima Mede, has descibed effective plan-budget link as critical for attaining inclusive growth and national development
Mede stated this in her remarks during a Specialised Training Programme on Strategic Planning and Effective Linkage to Budgeting Process, organized by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning in Kano
The Permanent Secretary was represented by Alhaji Aminu Yargaya, Assistant Director (Plans), Macroeconomic Analysis Department in the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.
Mede said, ” it is clear that the role of strategic planning and effective linkage to budgeting process is very critical towards the realisation of the aspirations of any nation. Studies have shown that countries like China, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc that have consistently been implementing National Development Plans are successful in attaining inclusive growth and sustainable development”
She explained that, the training was organised for officers of Federal MDAs, as part of a continuous re-training and development programme to sharpen the skills of officers for improved service delivery.
” This training is one of the key activities designed to be undertaken by the Ministry, with a view to enhance the competence of technical officers in the areas of plan formulation, implementation, policy analysis and forecasting” She added.
Accordingly, Mede disclosed also that, the training is also aimed at improving officers’ skills in preparing budgets using the Zero-Based-Budgeting Approach and also putting the officers through the process of linking the budget with the plan, since annual budget is the instrument through which the plan is being implemented as the former takes cue from the later.
While butressing the fact that, a good budget is a product of good plan, the Permanent Secretary stated ” as you are aware, the nation is currently facing economic crises as commodity prices, especially oil prices have declined drastically with negative consequences on government revenues. This explains the need for effective planning and budget implementation in order to achieve value for money, as expenditures are tied only to the country’s needs for maximum impact on the lives of citizens. This is buttressed by the introduction of such economic and fiscal instruments as Zero-based- Budgeting (ZBB), Treasury Single Account (TSA), BVN, restructuring the budget framework in favour of capital expenditure among others”
Mede also described the low level of implementation of National Development Plans, as well as Annual Budgets as an issue not unconnected with capacity gaps identified in the Public Service.
She explained that, as a result, in some cases, MDAs are not able to effectively formulate credible Sector Plans or Annual Budgets nor are they able to implement them effectively.
While commending the merger of the former National Planning Commission with the Budget Office of the Federation, Mede said, that in the past, bureaucracy and lack of effective collaboration between government agencies had hindered effective Plan-Budget link , as such emphasised that the merged agencies must work as one to succeed for the good of the country.
Underscoring the imperative of the training exercise, she pointed out that the challenges experienced last year by the Ministry’s Technical Officers in assisting Federal MDAs to prepare their 2016 Budgets necessitated for it, especially now that government is seeking urgent measures to reduce economic waste in the face of the current recession, thereby creating more value for the government.
The Kano training is the second batch in the series of the capacity building for the Budget officers of the MDAs, after Lagos batch that was conducted earlier in October
Some key recommendations that arose from the first batch of this training in Lagos are; the Budget Division of MDAs should be domiciled in the Planning, Research and Statistics Department; the efforts being made by the Federal Government in improving the budgeting process is commendable, but there is need for better synergy between the Executive and Legislative arms of Government in this regard and the Planning, Research and Statistics should be made a cadre in the Public Service to enhance project planning and implementation
Others are; sustainability should be mainstreamed into project implementation in the country, In addition, measuring performance of budget releases to MDAs should be based on results of the projects as against the current practice of measuring the amount of money spent; and the process of projects selection should be based on the needs.
Engagement of all stakeholders, In addition to prioritisation and implementation should be based on those that have direct positive impact on the lives of beneficiaries and also adequate funding for the monitoring and evaluation by government and commitment of the leadership to it (M&E) are among other recommendations.