State and County Government in action
Over 100 participants representing all tens states, including Ministers of Finance, Directors General of Local Government representing the counties, state Directors of Planning, Budgeting and Accounts as well as Inspectors of Planning and Budgeting met for the annual four-day ‘State Budget Conference’ to prepare and draft state budgets for the coming fiscal year. Organised by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP) with support from UNDP, the workshop provides an opportunity for state finance officials to communicate directly with the national Ministry of Finance and discuss issues in preparing and implementing new budgets.
Honourable Mary Jervase Yak, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning opened the workshop and acknowledged the exceptional performance shown by state officials in managing resources during the challenging time of austerity. She noted that strengthened public financial management systems, a reduction in budget overruns and the equitable allocation of resources is key to enable delivery of services to communities and she stressed the importance of continuing the same diligence.
UNDP supports the ten state governments by deploying financial management, planning and revenue specialists in the state ministries to provide coaching and mentoring support to officials for integration of financial management and revenue collection reforms into state government policies to improve service delivery, reduce poverty and create employment.
In addition to budgeting issues, MOFEP presented the reforms in local services support, revenue collection and public service management for the new fiscal year. In an effort to support a rural development strategy, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning has introduced a number of new conditional transfers to counties to strengthen rural economies and improve living standards.
The workshop provides a platform for discussion, with representatives from the states and counties raising issues and asking questions to the national Ministry on expanding access to financial institutions at the county level, initiatives to increase non-oil revenue collection, equitable and timely allocation of state transfers as well as steps state and national government can take to meet priorities outlined in the New Deal Compact.
In highlighting current challenges in Public Financial Management, Mr Moses Mabior, Director of Aid Coordination, MOFEP explained that many donors channel funds through implementing partners because of a lack of credible financial management systems, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, and auditing systems to assess the performance of public expenditure. The national Ministry urged state officials to follow the public financial management guidelines and strengthen government systems to obtain direct budgetary support and development aid for accelerating the nation’s economic development. UNDP is committed to supporting both national and local government in strengthening the systems needed to manage aid.
As the next step of the budgeting process, similar workshops will take place in each state to facilitate the county budget processes. With support from UNDP specialists, state governments will prepare detailed annual plans and budgets for both state agencies and counties, which will be submitted to respective state legislative assemblies before July.