Christopher Osuala, commissioner for Budget, Economic Planning and Statistics Imo State has said that the current administration in the state has continued to receive the commendation and cash grants from the World Bank following the administration’s compliance in budget planning and execution.
Imo, one of the 36 states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, was created on February 3, 1976, and on August 27,1997 Abia State was carved out of Imo State, leaving the present Imo State with the existing 27 local government areas.
Osuala explained that in terms of budgeting to earn World Bank approval or endorsement, this is the first time any governor or government administration in the state had done its budget and got the endorsement of World Bank.
The current administration, he said has done it better than any other.
He also said that the insistence of the governor to adopt the World Bank indices to prepare the state yearly budget, using what’s is known as “Community Charter of Demands” has changed the narrative for the state.
The “Community Charter of Demands” is a system in the preparation of budget where a government meets with almost all autonomous communities in the state.
In the case of Imo State, BusinessDay gathered that budgets now have the inputs of all stakeholders. The 655 autonomous communities, legislators, chairmen of different local government areas, the royal fathers, leaders of various communities, women leaders, youth leaders, and town union presidents are now all part of the budget-making processes as they gather in town hall for discussion, and their views sought in relation to their needs.
Christopher Osuala, commissioner for Budget, Economic Planning and Statistics, told BusinessDay in Owerri, the state capital: “In this town hall meeting, the government will ask them to say what they want the government to do for them. This is how the government of Senator Hope Uzodinma has been originating his annual budget proposals for Imo State, since his arrival on the seat as the state governor.
“This is also in compliance with the World Bank requirements which is known as and called “State Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability Programme.”
He further explained that the information gathered at such stakeholders’ meeting is then translated statistically to represent the needs of various communities in the state.
“This is what this government has been doing which has not only earned it some thousands of US dollars but the World Bank’s approval and endorsement for the first time since the creation of Imo State in 1976,” the commissioner said.
Osuala further explained that the information gathered at the stakeholders’ meeting is usually critically analysed and put to good use.
“When it is prepared at that level; it becomes a draft budget and we send it to the Imo State House of Assembly to synthesise it in a legislative manner. Then they return it with their own legislative input, before we send the final draft to the Executive Council meeting.
“And from that process, it is sent to the Imo House of Assembly for them to fix the date when the budget will be discussed and subsequently when the governor and his team will be invited to present the budget formally for the
Imo people. So, these things involve the citizens.
“For about two years now, the Imo State budget has been winning the funds attached to the State Fiscal Transparency and Accountability (SFTAs) programmes,” he said.
He further disclosed that the SFTAs programme has succeeded to win the state reasonable some of money from the World Bank.
“Since 2021, 2022, and 2023, Imo State has gotten through this programme, about $40million. And this is called World Bank grant, SFTAs,” Osuala said.
According to him, “There are what we call Delivery Link Indicators or Disbursement Link Indicators (DLIs), and there are what we call Link Results or Disbursement Link Results. The delivery link indicators are the things that the states are required to do that come under community engagement. When you do community engagement, there is what we call community sensitisation, there is also what we call creating awareness.”
This budgetary procedure introduced by Governor Uzodinma, he said was the first-of-its-kind since the birth of Imo.
“This is the process of World Bank budgeting and has never happened in the history of Imo State since 1976 when Imo State was created, and it is the best innovation this governor has brought to Imo State. For the last three years, we have been getting a minimum of $10,000,000. And that is a grant from the World Bank, and that grant is not a loan, it is free funds for the work that Imo State is doing in terms of making their budget in compliance with global requirements,” he said.
He described the procedure as prudent management of funds accruing to the state, and that it attested to the fact that what the governor budgeted were things that have a positive impact on the lives of the people.
“Consequently, the World Bank sees that this administration is presently using that money to better the lives of the people, and that Governor Uzodinma has given innovation to the people through the help of the ministry of Budget, Economic Planning and Statistics”.
“So this shows to any right-thinking person that what the present government is doing in terms of budgeting has never been done before,” Osuala said.