Speakers Stress Public Participation To Make Budget Open, Transparent
SIC is committed to bring transparency in government departments: Saima Agha
Karachi: Citizens inclusion can make budget making open and transparent, constitutional and administrative departments must take measures in this regard considering budget a public document.
These views were expressed by speakers during a seminar on “Status of open and transparent budgeting in Pakistan” organized by CPDI in collaboration with CNBA (Citizens Network for Budget Accountability) in a local hotel at Karachi.
While addressing the audience Ms. Saima Agha advocate, Information Commissioner, Sindh Information Commission, said that transparency in budget has the utmost importance and citizens have a right to know that where and how their money is being used.
She said that despite of meager budget Sindh Information Commission is committed to bring transparency in departments and trying to make the people aware about RTI laws in collaboration with different government and non-governmental institutions so that they get information from government departments especially regarding budget. She further added that SIC is trying to get government department’s websites upgrade so the information gets available to public proactively.
Muhmmad Saleem Jalbani, Senior Chief Planning & Development Department Sindh in his address highlighted the importance of citizen’s participation in budget making process and claimed it un-deniable but it is the duty of citizens to point out wherever they see an embezzlement in funds.
He said that for planning and approval of any project, government has strict legislations and these processes is completed in different phases.
While replying to some question he said that citizens can give their opinion about different projects but also share their suggestions as well which are being added in annual development programs.
In case any project is not being competed in many years then it’s the duty of citizens to support the government in speedy completion of development schemes. Most of the documents and information regarding budget is available on finance and Planning & Development Departments websites, he added.
Ms. Darakhshan Saleh, member Sindh Commission for status of Women, emphasized on transparency of budget. She said that commonly many commissions are established by governments but no budget is provided to them for their functions.
Irfan Ali, Assistant Director, KMC said that transparency in budgeting is undoubtedly a topic that should be discussed and it can be progressed only by talking to citizens including government institutions and non-governmental organizations. Establishment of local governments is very important for better planning so that people’s problems are solved at their doorsteps.
Earlier, CPDI consultant Amer Ejaz, while presenting the contents of the CPDI’s third annual report on the “State of Budget Transparency in Pakistan”, said that a lot of work to be done regarding budget transparency at the federal and provincial levels.
There is a need for timely completion of its various stages, preparation of the budget according to the budget rules, transparency in the budget documents should be ensured. Strong legislation is to be needed for public participation in budget making process.
He further said that Pakistan has a relatively weak right to information system that needs to be improved, need to issue monthly, quarterly or annual reports regarding budget implementation.
The administration needs strong legislative time to remove unnecessary powers like altering budget figures and involve citizens in budgeting. The seminar was attended by a large number of women including representatives of various NGOs and departments, journalists.