A report by the United States (US) Department of State has classified Nigerian government among national governments without fiscal transparency.
The report released Thursday and tagged the ‘2019 Fiscal Transparency Report’, covers January 1 to December 31, 2018.
What the classification means is that Nigeria’s budgeting process, including its contracting and licensing processes in the extractive industry, failed to measure up to the standards required of the American government.
The report assessed the fiscal transparency of 141 national governments that receive U.S assistance.
Out of the number, 74 governments met the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency.
Of the remaining 67 national governments, 13 fell short of the standards, but were classified to have made “significant progress.”
Nigeria fell short of the above ratings and was classified among national governments that were not fiscally transparent.
African countries classified alongside Nigeria include Egypt, Ethiopia, and the Gambia.
Others are Gabon, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Togo, Tanzania, Sudan, South Sudan, Niger, Mozambique, Mali, Lesotho, and Cameroon are also among the African countries whose governments failed the U.S transparency assessment.
China, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, and Ukraine are among non-African countries that failed to meet the American government requirements.
“During the review period, the government made its executive budget proposal, enacted budget, and end-of-year report accessible to the general public, including online. The executive budget proposal and the enacted budget, however, were not published within a reasonable period of time,” the report said of Nigeria.
“Information on debt obligations was publicly available.Budget documents provided detailed estimates for revenue and expenditure but did not include allocations to and earnings from state-owned enterprises. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation did not have fully audited financial reports that were available to the public.
“The government maintained off-budget accounts not subject to adequate oversight or audit.Due to oil price fluctuations, actual revenues and expenditures varied significantly from estimated figures making budget documents unreliable,” the report said.
It said for Nigeria to improve its fiscal transparency, the government must take the following actions:
“Publishing its executive budget proposal and enacted budget within a reasonable period of time.
“Detailing allocations to and earnings from state-owned enterprises.
“Improving the reliability of budget documents by producing and publishing a supplemental budget when actual revenues and expenditures do not correspond to those in the enacted budget.
“Making full audit reports for significant, large state-owned enterprises publicly available.
“Subjecting off-budget accounts to adequate audit and oversight and making information on such accounts publicly available.”
US Department of State noted that the report did not assess corruption, but that lack of fiscal transparency could encourage corruption.
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“A finding that a government ‘does not meet the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency’ does not necessarily mean there is significant corruption in the government.
“Similarly, a finding that a government ‘meets the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency’ does not necessarily reflect a low level of corruption,” the report added.
It said international organisations and civil society organisations made input to the report.
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