Civil Society Organisations have called for more citizen involvement in the budget making process, calling upon all those involved, be it state or non-state actors, to play their role to ensure the people are more involved.
The call was made during a public dialogue organised by ActionAid International Rwanda and CLADHO (umbrella of human rights organisations in Rwanda) on the role of civil society organisations and citizens’ participation in the budget making process.
Alexis Nkurunziza, programme manager at CLADHO, said citizen participation in budget making process only stands at twelve per cent.
“Our research indicated that only 12 per cent of citizens participate in budget making. The government, CSOs, citizens have a role to play in increasing the rate,” he said.
“The level of participation is too low, that’s why we must improve. Development partners, media, political organisations and other interested parties should work with citizens to hold government accountable on budget expenditures. It is within the citizens’ rights to know how the budget works.”
Nkurunziza cited various challenges that impede the involvement of all stakeholders in budget making process.
They include little involvement of CSOs in budget formulation process, poor budget information sharing at local level, limited ability by CSOs to analyse and understand the budget, among others.
He also cited moderate skills of the media on reporting budget issues.
He said that citizens should participate in the planning, implementation and evaluation of the budget but especially after the budget has been approved.
“Local entities should involve citizens in budget making process since it’s within their right. If the citizens are involved in budget making process, Imihigo would be more effective. Sometimes officials undertake projects that are not priority for the people. For instance, they may construct a market whereas a bridge is what the people needed most,” Nkurunziza said.
CSOs have been challenged to work closely with the citizens as well as take advantage of the space that has been created.
Participants also recommended the use of local radio stations to communicate budget information to local citizens.
Josephine Uwamariya, country director of ActionAid Rwanda, said the dialogue is in line with the ongoing Governance Month.
“The citizen is at the heart of the development of the country. This dialogue aims to mobilise CSOs to involve the citizens in budget formulation process to ensure transparency and accountability,” Uwamariya said.
Participants also discussed about the increase of the budget allocated to agriculture sector.