Citizen's engagement in policy making and management is regarded as an essential step to ensure inclusive governance. Public finance management is an equally important sector that warrants citizen's engagement in various forms so that practices of good governance can thrive in any state.
In this connection, the experts and policy makers have stressed the need for meaningfully engaging citizens in public fiscal management for well informed use of budget and other resources which keeps in centre inclusion, accountability and openness.
A national validation workshop reiterated the issues on ‘national strategy of citizen engagement in public financial management in Nepal’. The workshop was held in Kathmandu on Sunday.
Delivering a presentation on the topic, Freedom Forum’s Executive Chief and senior journalist Taranath Dahal described the public fiscal management as a tool for enhancing effectiveness of entire resource management which has direct bearing on the transformation of the lives of the citizens. “It also serves as the backbone for efficient and result-oriented public service delivery. It not only seeks and promotes fiscal transparency, but also supports advancing towards the expected goals of development, making the entire budgeting process more open, inclusive and accountable providing a ground for formulating fiscal policies centered on poverty alleviation.
Highlighting the essence of civic involvement in the public fiscal management, Dahal said people’s participation while settling priorities and necessities of public expenditure was a must and all procedures thereafter for legitimacy, better public understanding, and acceptance, and effective implementation of the budget and increase efficiency of the government allocation and work operation. “It is a must for fiscal transparency and promote economic governance. “
Similarly, sharing his views, PEFA Secretariat’s member-secretary Gorakh Bahadur Shahi said the national strategy would be a pool for public partnership in PFM at all three-tier of the government, contributing to downsize arrears, which would be a great strength in the fiscal management to be achieved through free of cost. However, there lies challenges as to how the three-tier government takes its ownership and triggers and increases public interest and concerns over the PFM issues and promotes the use of ICT-enabled citizen engagement in public finances.
The panelists were of the view that civic engagement in public fiscal management was crucial to achieve fiscal discipline, transparency and accountability, making it open and inclusive.
National Women Commission member Krishna Kumari Poudel Khatiwada who attended the programme as the chief guest echoed the need of analyzing the draft through a gender lens and making sure that its final version would not miss to incorporate the issues of women and ensure their participation in the public fiscal management. As the organisers said, the genuine submissions of the discussions would be featured in the final version of the document.
Other panel members, Deputy Auditor General Ramu Prasad Dotel, Chief of Financial Comptroller General Suman Raj Aryal, Public Accounts Committee Secretary Dr Rojnath Pandey, Finance Committee Secretary Dr Surenra Aryal, Amargadhi Municipality Deputy Mayor Sangeeta Bhandari, National Coordinator of National Campaign for Sustainable Development Dayasagar Shrestha and former Chief Commissioner of National Information Commission Krishna Hari Baskota stressed the need of mainstreaming citizen engagement in all phases of the public financial management from budget planning to external audit and oversight.
Key areas of the inputs provided by the experts and participants on the occasion were amendment to the existing regulatory laws, capacity building of demand side and supply side of PFM, strengthening institutional arrangement and service delivery and management and disclosure of information/data related to budget to facilitate citizen engagement in budgetary process.
The objective of this assessment was to review the current situation of citizen engagement in PFM and, based on possibilities and practices, develop a comprehensive strategy for CE in the PFM system in Nepal that will guide the process of mainstreaming citizen engagement throughout the budget process for all tiers of the government, shared Muktiraman Parajuli of PEFA Secretariat. “It should provide guidance on institutionalizing and strengthening sustainable systematic practices for CE across all tiers and all budget phases in line with the principles of participation and inclusion, transparency and accountability, effectiveness and responsiveness”.
As many as 50 PFM actors, including mayor/chairpersons, deputy mayor/vice-chairpersons, CSO representatives, media professionals, social accountability practitioners, government officials had provided their inputs on the national strategy document containing gap analysis, action plan and monitoring and evaluation plan.
The programme was organised by Freedom Forum in collaboration with the Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) Secretariat Nepal.
Source: National News Agency Nepal