By Temitope Owotoki
The United States Department of State 2019 Fiscal Transparency Report has stated Nigeria made no significant progress in fiscal transparency.
The report, which spanned January 1 – December 31, 2019, concludes that Nigeria is one of the countries that did not meet the minimum requirements for fiscal transparency.
Fiscal transparency refers to the publication of information on how governments raise, spend, and manage public resources. It involves publication of high quality information on how governments raise taxes, borrow, spend, invest, and manage public assets and liabilities.
The US Report describes the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency developed, updated, and strengthened by the Department in consultation with other relevant federal agencies.
It is annual reviews of the fiscal transparency of governments that receive U.S. assistance.
The assessment helps to ensure that U.S. taxpayer funds are used appropriately and provide opportunities to dialogue with governments on the importance of fiscal transparency.
The 2019 Report, released on Thursday, notes that the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency include having key budget documents that are publicly available, substantially complete, and generally reliable.
“The review includes an assessment of the transparency of processes for awarding government contracts and licenses for natural resource extraction,” it states.
Continuing, the report states, “Fiscal transparency is a critical element of effective public financial management, helps build market confidence, and underpins economic sustainability.”
It adds that fiscal transparency fosters greater government accountability by providing a window into government budgets for citizens, helping citizens hold their leadership accountable, and facilitating better-informed public debate.
The Department concluded that, of the 140 governments evaluated pursuant to the Act plus Equatorial Guinea, 67 did not meet the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency.
Of these 67, however, 13 governments made significant progress toward meeting the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency.
It reviews governments that were originally identified in the 2014 Fiscal Transparency Report, and assesses those that did not meet the minimum fiscal transparency requirements and indicates whether those governments made significant progress toward meeting the requirements during the review period of January 1 – December 31, 2018.
The report also provides a description of the use of the Fiscal Transparency Innovation Fund.