A coalition of Civil Society Organisations, Network of Concern Citizens in Governance, has said it would monitor compliance to the provisions of Fiscal Responsibility Law in Kaduna State.
The coalition, led by Mr. Yusuf Goje, stated this when the group visited the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Kaduna State Fiscal Responsibility Commission (KADFREC), yesterday.
Goje explained that the law passed in 2016 was designed to protect the state from fiscal indiscipline by ensuring best practices in public financial management.
He added that the law was also to help the state to pursue macro-fiscal discipline, compliance with rules and the attainment of budget credibility.
He described KADFREC as an independent commission set up by the law to monitor and enforce the provisions of the law as “a major player” in the entire budget processes in the state.
Goje, however, observed that the commission has not been very active in the budget process since its establishment in 2016.
He pointed out that the inactivity of the commission over the years has led to the non-adherence to the provisions of the fiscal responsibility law by the state’s Planning and Budget Commission.
“For example, by the provisions of the law, the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) that informs the budget should be submitted to the state’s Executive Council between first and second quarter, but we are now in the third quarter.
“Not only that, the MTEF sets the budget ceiling for any fiscal year, mandating that the budget should not exceed the ceiling by five to 10 per cent.
“But over the years, the state’s annual budget has always exceeded the recommendation of the MTEF,” he said.
According to him, this is happening because the commission has not been fully functional to ensure full compliance with the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Law.
“This is why we are here, to partner with the commission and assist in monitoring and tracking compliance with the law to ensure that responsible government agency prepares the budget diligently.
“This is part of civil society organisation’s efforts in ensuring that the state’s budget does not only speak in figures but meets the needs of the people in the long run.”
Mr Joshua James, Executive Director, Open Kaduna Radio, equally urged the commission to partner with the media to enlighten the citizens about its activities to carry the people along.
Responding, KADFREC Chairman, Mr Ya’u Usman, thanked the group for the visit, its concerns and offer of partnership to support the commission succeed in carrying out its task.
Usman explained that the commission was not active because it has not been fully constituted in terms of appointment of board members, deployment of needed manpower and required funding.
He, nonetheless, assured the coalition that the state government was making all necessary efforts to get the commission operational in line with set objectives.
“We have written to the office of the Head of Service on the manpower needs of the commission which was approved and will soon be deployed.
“Efforts are also on the way to make all necessary appointments, including a representative of civil society organizations.
“You don’t expect a new born baby to start walking and running. It takes time, but I assure you that the commission will begin operations in no distant time, and we will be glad to partner with you, ” he said.