CNBA project to enforce strengthen participation of citizens in transparency & accountability

Sameer Nazir

LARKANA: Mehran Welfare Trust (MWT) Larkana collaboratively Center for Peace and Development studies CPDI organized a District level Budget Consultation under the project of Citizen Network for Budget Accountability National Endowment for Democracy at MWT office.

Provincial Coordinator Sindh Toufique Ahmed Wassan along with representatives from District Council Larkana, District Government Larkana and other notables, representatives of NGOs/CBOs participated the consultation meeting.

MWT Chief Executive Panjal Khan Sangi welcomed all participants and presented the success stories, while Provincial Coordinator Sindh Toufique briefed about the Citizen Network for Budget Accountability (CNBA) and said that National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) is implementing a project on “Strengthening Civil Society to Improve Accountability” since February 2006.

He told that the main objective of the project is to promote democratization by establishing and strengthening mechanisms of enhanced public participation in monitoring and accountability of use of public funds by public authorities in the districts and members of provincial/national assemblies.

He further said CPDI has formulated a network of different civil society organizations, academia and NGOs from every district of the Sindh, known as the Citizens Network for Budget Accountability (CNBA). Strengthening the participation of citizens, enforcing transparency & accountability and pointing out the loopholes in the budget making process is its main aim. CNBA is the first step towards a nation-wide network of budget monitoring organizations, called Network for Budget Advocacy (NBA) that CPDI hopes to build in few years down the lane.

He further briefed about the CPDI he said that Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) is an independent, non-partisan and a not-for-profit civil society organization working on issues of peace and development in Pakistan. It is registered UNDER SECTION 42 of the Companies Ordinance, 1984 (XLVII of 1984). It was established in September 2003 by a group of concerned citizens who realized that there was a need to approach the issues of peace and development in an integrated manner.

CPDI is a first initiative of its kind in Pakistan. It seeks to inform and influence public policies and civil society initiatives through research-based advocacy and capacity building in order to promote citizenship, build peace and achieve inclusive and sustainable development. Areas of special sectoral focus include promotion of peace and tolerance, rule of law, transparency and access to information, budget watch and Legislative Watch and Development.

Toufique Ahmed said that local governments failed to ensure public participation in budget-making process, while the district governments did not release any pre-budget statements for public information. He said that in many districts the authorities concerned did not hold pre-budget consultation with the local people.

He also said that Budget making was a continuous process and the study revealed serious mismanagement on the part of district government regarding meeting timelines, following the budget rules, transparency and public participation. “The district governments failed to include stakeholders in the budget making process,”

He further said that the performance of district government with regard to ensuring transparency in budget making process was not satisfactory as they did not take any practical steps to enable the citizens to have an easy access to the budget through modern means of information technology. He said that the websites of district governments were functional in only 2 districts.

At the end question answer session was concluded on these remarks by Panjal Khan Sangi Chief Executive MWT that the performance of district governments with regard to ensuring transparency in budget-making process was not satisfactory as they did not take any practical steps to enable the citizens to have an easy access to the budget through modern means of information technology.

The participants shared their views about making budget and said that public participation could make a budget people friendly. But local authorities are not making it people friendly They urged the authorities concerned to conduct pre-budget consultative sessions at the grassroots level to provide people with opportunities to give their inputs and suggestions for budget making.