Nigeria posted its best performance in the Open Budget Survey, improving by 24 points for transparency among the 120 countries surveyed in 2021.
This was revealed at the official launch of the Open Budget Survey 2021 Report, which was released on Tuesday in Abuja.
The OBS is the only comparable and independent measure of budget transparency, participation, and oversight in the world.
The 2021 Survey covers 120 countries and uses a questionnaire with 145 scored indicators drawn from international good practices.
The event had in attendance the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed; the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation Ben Akabueze, the Senior Programme Officer of the International Budget Partnership Sally Tolbet and other top officials in both the private and public sectors of the Nigerian economy.
Presenting the outcome of the Report, Tolbert said that the total transparency score of Nigeria was put at 45 in the 2021 survey.
This, she noted, is a significant leap from the 21 scored in the 2019 survey.
She told the gathering that Nigeria’s performance is the second highest improvement worldwide.
However, she said Nigeria needs to maintain and accelerate progress on budget transparency, and aim for a score above 61.
This, she said, could be achieved by enhancing information in the budget proposal, expenditure trends over time, as well as sustenance of publication of a mid-year review.
She also called for increase details in the year-end Budget Implementation Reports, detailed expenditure outcomes, as compared to the approved budget and timely publication of the Audit Statement within 18 months of the end of the fiscal year.
She said, “This shows that even as Nigeria has made much progress this round, there is still possibilities to go further. The OBS sets the benchmark for sufficient information at 61 out of 100. And there are ways that Nigeria could continue upward trend seeing as seen in this round and aim to hit that benchmark and even surpass it was just within just a few years.
“So here are some reforms that could be considered to catapult Nigeria into the ranks of the countries that meet the benchmark for sufficient information. First is enhancing the budget proposal with additional information. It could be simple things such as spending trends over time so you can see how spending administrative sector is changing over the years.
“It also could include performance indicators and targets and what the government hopes to achieve with public spending.”
Also speaking, the DG Budget said expressed optimism that Nigeria will surpass the performance when the 2022 Open Budget Survey is conducted.
Akabueze said, “Government has over the past several years undertaken a number of reforms in the Public Finance Management space which have culminated in the significant improvements we can now report.
“Nigeria posted its best performance in the open budget survey, improving by 24 points for transparency in the latest Open Budget Survey.
“We remain committed to all the different moving parts of our PFM reform agenda. Central to this is our bullish domestic revenue mobilisation effort as well as efficiency in revenue and expenditure management.
“We have been privileged to have some committed development partners working with us over the years on various parts of our reform programmes.”
He said the Open Government Partnership is currently working on its 3rd National Action Plan, adding that achieving government’s reform agenda requires bold, decisive and urgent actions, some of which may entail short-term pain but medium-/long-term gains.