With the performance index of annual budgets estimates of both the state and federal governments regarded as unsatisfactory, a Non-Governmental Organisation, (NGO) Kebetkache Women Development and Resources Centre, has said it trained not less than 800 persons with capacity to monitor and evaluate provisions in government budget across the various geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
Executive Director of the group, Mrs Eme Okon, who spoke during the advocacy meeting/ media engagement on participatory budgeting and fair taxation in Calabar, Thursday, said “the budget is a very strategic document where our needs are captured. You and I need to rise up from our slumber and begin to question those managing the machinery of government to explain to us how money from tax payers is being spent”.
Speaking on the topic ‘Financing for Development,’ under the Oxfam Nigeria Strategic Partnership program, Okon said the programme was to equipped participants with skills to make those with responsibility of implementing government budgets accountable, and therefore stressed that community locals have right to know what government is doing with money collected as tax.
The executive director urged Nigerians to be involved in need assessment, generate lofty program/ideas, feed them into government budgets so that such programmes could impact the lives of the people.
“It’s not like we are seeking to confront government but we are interested in knowing how the budget matter is being handled. We have not said that those managing our resources are completely bad. Holding them to account for tax payers money would make them serve the people effectively,” Okon stressed.
The Executive Director averred that the accountability could be effected through monitoring and that it was only by so doing that provisions made in the budget could be religiously adhered to.
“We stated that between 2016 and 2018,the NGO has trained a little over 800 persons on community needs assessments so as to help them have skills on how to participate in development process by state government, sustain the engagement with a view to influence inclusion in their budgetary planning. We expect them to use the skills imparted to highlight their social plights”
She said that resolutions reached at the meeting would be passed to states so that government could use the information to work, explaining further that the vision of Kebetkache was to build relationship between communities and government as well between businessmen and the government.
Program Director Oxfam Nigeria, Mr. Henry Ushie, in his remarks, urged local women not to relent in engaging officials of government in view of the dire needs for development of the rural community, stressing that his organization does not limit itself to financial supports but campaigns against inequality amongst other tasks.
Also speaking, Idongesit Smart, The Program Officer, Kebetkache, advised the Cross River Internal Revenue Service to always sensitized the public on the issue of multiple taxation, maintaining that the greatest challenges faced by those doing business in Cross River was multiple taxation.
In his reactions, a tax director in the state internal revenue service, Mr Anyade Patrick assured the Kebetkache advocacy group and Cross River business community of a harmonious and proper tax regime and evaluation through effective government monitoring.
He however urged tax payers, including men and women, community leaders, not to be afraid to impress on the government to shoulder its responsibility of fixing basic infrastructure.