By Chimezie Godfrey
The Open Budget Cluster has commended the Rivers State government for disclosure of the state’s budget in their website.
This was made known in a statement signed by the Program Officer of the Organization, Green Isaac and made available to Newsdiaryonline on Tuesday.
Isaac noted that this is the first time the administration of Governor Nyesom Wike will make their budget open, adding that it shows that the state is ready to allow citizens engagement with the state.
He equally stressed that what the Rivers State government has done is first step in embracing the culture of openness and transparency.
He said,”The open budget cluster commends the efforts of the proactive disclosure of the States budgets documents in their website. It’s the first time this administration will make its annual budget public.
“It shows the state is ready to allow citizens engagement with the state government.
“This is the first step in embracing the culture of openness and transparent governance.
“Open Budget cluster uses this opportunity to commend the Government for heading to the various advocacy, engagements, calls for transparency in running the state budgetary processes. This is a step in the right direction.”
The Program Officer recalled that for several years, the budget of Rivers State government has been shrouded in secrecy and opaqueness and has generated a lot of controversies amongst development and public analyst, opinion leaders, academia, financial experts, Civil Society Organizations and other Stakeholders as to why such an important and vital document that contains governments expenditures, forecast and fiscal policies should be kept away from the public knowledge for so long.
He therefore called on the state government to also make other fiscal and financial documents available and accessible to the public.
“In the spirit of this new found openness and disclosure, we call on the state government to also make other fiscal and financial documents (which are by the way of public documents) available, accessible to the public.
“The process leading to the formation and formulation of the budget should also be made inclusive and participatory.
“It is believed that to uphold and promote democracy and good governance, government must be open, transparent and accountable as well as participatory and inclusive.
“We therefore, call on the Rivers state government not to relapse after taking this giant step but to continue to embrace open and inclusive governance in order to entrench democratic values in the state.
“This we believe is one way the government can rebuild trust and gain the confidence of the people,” he stressed.