ACCOUNTABILITY, TRANSPARENCY AND BUDGETING IN NIGERIA
Accountability and Transparency
- Transparency and Accountability have become indispensable vocabularies in Public Financial Management(PFM)
- They constitute the first order condition that must be fulfilled by any responsible government.
- For any democratic government to succeed, transparency and accountability must be its watchword
- They are success factors being very crucial for good governance.
- Accountability is the bedrock for democracy and transparency is the channel through which accountability is enthroned.
- Transparency enables all stakeholders in a country to see the structure and functions of the Government Clearly
Meaning of Accountability.
- Accountable means the requirement to record, report, explain and justify actions to a superior officer, to the Government, to National Assembly the public Accounts committee or to the Public.
- Accountability cannot therefore exist without proper accounting practices, in other words absence of accounting means absence of accountability
- Accountability is the act of providing detailed information and explanations on the actions (including financial actions) of government officials to the citizens.
Objectives of Keeping Government Accounting records
The following are generally the objectives:-
- To comply with statutory and other legal requirements.
- To clearly identify the objects and purposes for funds received and expended.
- To facilitate effective administration and control of funds.
- To facilitate audit and monitoring by external review.
- To provide financial data useful for economic analysis.
- To promote and sustain accountability and transparency
Techniques for effective Government Accounting
- For Governments to achieve the objective of Accountability, Financial information must be both relevant and reliable for reasonably informed users.
- Government financial statements should be published regularly, full financial statement (based on accruals) should be regularly published.
- Compliance with finance-related laws, rules and regulations
- Efficiency and effectiveness of operations
- Accountability is the obligation to render an account for the responsibility conferred. When systems for public transparency and Accountability are being devised ,four questions must be considered :
- Who is Accountable?
- For what is he/she Accountable?
- To whom is she/he Accountable?
- How is that accountability discharged?
- This paper will try to address these questions in the course of the presentation.
- It is important to mention at this juncture that the discharge of Accountability rest squarely on Transparency. The two terms are therefore interwoven and not independent of each other.
Instruments of Accountability
The main instruments of Financial Accountability are:
- Periodically published data on Public Finances,
- Annual Accounts and the investigative and other general reports prepared by independent
- Detailed data and information on Government operations including the publication of comprehensive budget documents.
- Clearly established conflict of interest rules for elected and appointed officials.
- Freedom of Information requirements.
- Transparent regulatory framework.
- Open public procurement and employment practices.
- A code of conduct for tax officials.
- Published performance Audits.
What is needed to be done?
- Have effective Financial Auditing before moving to Performance Auditing,
- Budget for work to be done before budgeting for results to be achieved,
- Maintain a historical database of budget and expenditure plans, transaction data at the highest level of detail.
- Adopt and implement predictable budgets before insisting that managers efficiently use the resources entrusted to them.
- Real-Time access to financial information
- Increased ‘Public value’ of information – Timely, accurate, trustworthy, and relevant customized reports.
The budget, in whatever context it is defined, is basically a plan.
- It gives information about the objectives and policy measures a country intends to pursue during a specified period of time.
- In respect of a nation, a national budget is a critical macroeconomic tool that has been used by both developed and developing countries to promote economic stability and generate sustainable development.
- Through effective budgeting and implementation a government serves its people through the delivery of services such as health, education and development of infrastructures.
- By planning for the future, a country learns to anticipate potential problems that constraints its growth and strategies on how to avoid them
In conclusion it can be seen that when it concerns the notion of good governance we must recognize a number of generally agreed principles which includes: Accountability meaning that it is possible to identify and hold public officials to account for their actions, Transparency meaning that reliable, relevant and timely information about the Government is available and finally openness meaning that Governments listen to citizens and businesses and take their suggestions into account when designing and implementing public policies. They should not be catchwords but represent the keys for successful reform and for equitable and sustainable development.