September 9, 2016 By Victoria Saffa
With funds from Christian Aid and support from the Budget Advocacy Network (BAN), the Western Area Budget Education and Advocacy Network (WABEAN) ended a one-day district budget hearing session at the Mammah’s Complex in Waterloo.
The session focused on the local council budget and how funds were raised and utilized for the development of various localities.
In his welcome address, former Chairman and ex-officio of WABEAN,Jonathan Pearce thanked participants for attending the forum ,admonishing them to take the process very serious.
He said the budget hearing session was among activities that brought both citizens and duty bearers to look at the budget process.
“The budget is the life line of every country and citizens must be interested in it and partake in the process. Our local councils are the highest decision making bodies at the local level and citizens should be involved and partake in the process. Councils played key roles in the development of the country and that was the reason decentralization was brought back so as to take development to the local level. The 2017 budget process will soon kick off and citizens must make their input and be engaged in the process. The budget process is a key development tool for development; we have to be interested in it as citizens because it hinges on our very development,” he said.
Making a presentation, Abu Bakarr Kamara, Coordinator Budget Advocacy Network, described the budget as a plan used by the government to raise and spend money.
He said the Government budget is the formal legal and administrative mechanism through which resources are raised and made available on annual basis to government ministries, departments and agencies to enable them carry out their functions.
Abdulrahman M. Sesay speaking on the local council budget said through the local government, finance committee issues a budget call circular to local council informing them of their annual budget ceiling for functions and activities to be implemented at the localities through government guiding policy.
“Local councils need to hold consultation with partners to determine budget priorities. They should also hold individual session with devolved staff to explain to the entire council body on how the budget ceilings would be prioritize in line with council priorities mostly found in the council development plans,” he said.
He said devolved staff prepare sector annual plans in line with budget ceilings with technical support from supervisory institution.
He said Council also needed to submit approved budget with minutes of approval to local government finance committee through the local government finance department.
Councilor Umar Sembu Sesay in his response said they as councilors look at the budget before it was approved to see what was not included from the felt need. “We are very much concern about the process and that was the reason we need the support of the people. Council is also constrained with development activities due to limited resources,” he said.