Tracking Covid-19 Spending: Kaduna CSOs, Media, Private Sector to Set up Network

By Uangbaoje Alex, Kaduna

As part of efforts to support government in cushioning the effects and ensure fiscal transparency and accountability in the Public Financial Management (PFM) System, of Covid-19 spending in Kaduna State, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Private Sector Organizations and Media has agreed to form a network.

According to a resolution reached at the end of a virtual meeting on Civil Society Strategic Session organized by The Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment & Development (CALPED) and partners on Tracking Government’s Public Financial Management in Times Of Emergency (Covid-19), the network will among other things, monitor and track all donations received by the government and how they are being spent.

The network will also leverage on the Open Government Partnership (OGP) to advocate for participation in the process of reviewing the 2020 budget and public procurement, following the recently rolled-out Governance Continuity Plan that enable the government to run the activities of the State via e-governance.

The expressed worries that while the process of budget review and public procurement is ongoing; there is no clear-cut framework for citizen’s engagement enabled by fiscal transparency and accountability mechanism in the spirit of Open Government Partnership (OGP).

The strategic session, which had eighty three (83) participants, provided an avenue for expert panelists drawn from the Academia, Legislature, Civil society, Development Organization, the Media and Information Technology, observed that the media has continued to play a critical role in the fight against Covid-19 by providing daily awareness creation and updates on preventive and palliative measures to citizens.

However, as front-liners, the media have not been provided with Personal Protective Equipment, and the loss of revenue is threatening their continued reportage and agenda setting role.

Other areas they resolved to work includes; “facilitating a capacity strengthening session for civil society and media on leveraging on the innovation and technology in tracking the State’s PFM system.

“Advocate to the government to expand its social protection interventions (the distribution of relief materials to vulnerable groups) and provision of protective equipment across the State and introduce a stimulus package for businesses in the State. Intensify advocacy to the government on the rising cases of domestic/sexual violence, harassment by some security agents and insecurity in parts of the state.

“Engage and follow-up with the Legislature on their plans to carried-out post Covid-19 pandemic oversight to assess adherence to due process, quality of service delivery, value for money and citizen’s satisfaction.”

They also observed that, “there is substantial decline in social and economic activities of the people, businesses and government. This is as a result of the lockdown that is affecting physical movement of people, goods and services leading to job and income loss, hunger, poverty and insecurity.

“The socio-economic effect of the pandemic has brought challenges of revenue generation which will lead to high debt profile, contraction in public spending and inability of government to deliver services.

“The Kaduna State Government was commended for the rapid and decisive measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 and cushion the socio-economic effect on the state. However, not unmindful of adjustments to processes and procedures as regards the State’s Public Finance Management system.

“The State House of Assembly has been supporting the Executive in the fight against the pandemic largely through sensitization of the constituents, donations and tabling the concerns of their constituents on palliatives. However, they are unable to effectively carrying-out its oversight function due to the social distancing and stay at home order.

“With the movement restrictions, the civil society actors have not done much in leveraging on innovation and technology to demand for fiscal transparency and accountability as the government responds to the socio-economic challenges posed by Covid-19.”

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