Report ranks Bayelsa, others low on budget transparency in South South

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Report ranks Bayelsa, others low on budget transparency in South South 

A non-governmental organisation, Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) over the weekend have accused the Bayelsa State government for not being transparent enough concerning the transparency and accountability in the budget procurement process.

GbaramatiVoice recalls that the Bayelsa State government had initially boasted of being transparent in its financial dealings.

However, (CIRDDOC) at the weekend revealed that four out of the six states of the South-South region ranked poorly in terms of transparency and accountability in budget and procurement process including the state.

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The report was titled “South-South States Budget Transparency Index 2022” and was launched at the Bayelsa Accountant-General Conference room in Yenagoa at the weekend.

The report which was presented by the Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) with support from UKAID, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), disclosed that a decline in the average degree of public availability of budget documents in the six states of the region.

The report showed that some states such as Akwa Ibom and Edo are relatively transparent and provide a considerable amount of budget information to the public, as it scored 60%.

Others such as Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross River and Delta recorded below the average score (43%) scoring 37%, 42% and 25% respectively.

The Zonal Coordinator of the CIRDDOC, Dr Tubo Pearce Okumoko, in his analysis, explained that the result of the survey was drawn from over 94 questions asked by officials of the state’s Ministry of Budget and economic planning,” some of the problems are an issue of uploading of budget information untimely and some documents were not uploaded”.

He recommended that there should be legal framework/foundations for all financial transactions of government, and the administrative and regulatory frameworks for the management of public finance should be in the public domain.”

In the area of public availability of budget documents, the table showed that Edo State topped the South-South index scoring 72% in 2022, moving from 48% in 2020, this was followed by Akwa Ibom State which scored 76% in 2020 and 64% in 2022.

Cross River State coming third scoring 47% in 2022, from 39% in 2020. Three states performed from the average score and above in the 2022 survey. While Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers performed below the average with the scores of 38%, 20% and 17% respectively.

The public participation index also showed that Cross River and Akwa Ibom performed above the national average of 28.42%. However, Akwa Ibom, Edo and Rivers states in the 2022 survey showed a downward trend from the 2020 survey.

The survey further revealed that Bayelsa and Delta States performed below the national average. The survey, however, showed that over the 2020, and 2022 rounds of the survey, it is only Cross River and Bayelsa states that recorded progressive movement in this regard.

Most of the representatives of the States including the Bayelsa Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Hon. Alameiseigha Akpoebide represented by the Permanent Secretary, Felix Asingbi, agreed to the self-appraising nature of the survey and promised improvement.

Reacting, the Bayelsa Permanent Secretary, Felix Asingbi, said: “In Bayelsa, the issue of transparency and accountability in budget planning is given serious attention. For us, whether rated low or high, we will continue to work on participatory budgeting”.

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