By Emma Ujah
The Fiscal Responsibility Commission has charged civil society organizations and the entire citizenry to play active roles in ensuring that public officers adhere to the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007. The Act provides for stiff penalties for misuse or embezzlement of public funds by government officials.
The Commissioner representing the South-East geo-political zone in the , Chief. Chris Okewulonu gave the charge when the South-East Budget Network paid a working visit to the Commission, yesterday, according a statement by the Head, Press and Public Relations, Mr. Abdulganiyu Aminu. Chief Okewulonu appealed to the group and other civil society groups to elevate fiscal responsibility to a level of campaign issue by holding town hall meetings with local communities.
At such fora, he added, civil society groups could explain in a down-to-earth manner, the responsibility of the people in the Fiscal Responsibility Act. According to Chief Okewulonu Section 51 of the Act was a veritable instrument available to any Nigerian to ensure compliance on the part of government official with budget implementation. His words, â€œthe novelty in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 is the fact that it is a legislation to enable and empower the citizens from budget conceptualization to implementationâ€.
While lamenting past years of fiscal indiscipline and financial recklessness, Chief Okewulonu said that the Fiscal Responsibility Act would restore the nation to the path of probity while ushering in the much desired dividends of democracy.
Another important feature of the Act, he added, was that it was to ensure openness in fiscal operation and management, adding that issues of budget and budgetary provisions are laid open in the domain of the general public.
Chief Okwulonu further said that the quarterly budget implementation report which is mandatory on the Federal Ministry of Finance was meant to curb lapses in actual budget implementation.
He therefore appealed to Nigerians to avail themselves of the latitude offered them by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 by playing their part in the area of budget surveillance. Earlier, the Chairman of South_East Budget Network, Mr. Princewill Okorie had called for South_East Fiscal Responsibility or Investigation team to verify the extent of work done on federal projects.
He said that despite the over N 82 billion appropriated for execution of developmental projects, the roads in the zone were still in a bad state, while pipe borne water and boreholes listed in the budget were not executed.