Red Sea State first in Sudan to expand role of civil society in budget making and expenditure management
Red Sea State: For the first time in Sudan, a civil society network has been involved in the process of drafting the state budget. To date, the network has expanded community-based budget monitoring to 10 localities in the Red Sea State.
The official decree on the participation of civil society in the all levels of budget process has been issued at the state level and signed by Wali (Governor) of Red Sea State. The network is represented at different levels in the State budget process including in the finance ministry and newly established macro-economic sectoral group. The network enjoys a consultative status on the state-level forum on long term expenditure framework issues.
The network conducted a set of public hearings on local budget formulation and implementation in all localities of Red Sea State. The public hearings increased popular awareness of local budget issues and helped prioritize key issues at locality level. The hearings brought members of communities, officials and locally elected leaders together to debate and consult on investment priorities, actions and public works and helped generate suggestions to align the state budget to public needs and priorities.
The UNDP Governance and Rule of Law Eastern Sudan under the project “Local Governance Development and Public Expenditure Management” supported the establishment of the civil society network in Red Sea State. The network consists of 15 civil society organizations from all over the State.
Fatima Basheer, one of the CSO activists representing Rights for Women, says, “The voice of civil society is critical for a functioning society. No meaningful discussion on strengthening national capacity is possible without recognition of the existing and potential role that non-state actors can play in supporting state institutions in exercising good governance and delivering basic services”.
Since its establishment, the network has conducted budget analysis, tracking and performance evaluation, as well as supported locality and state level budget consultations between governments and communities.
The mission of the network is to empower civil society organizations in Red Sea State to participate actively in the state planning and budget management; enhance transparency and accountability values in planning and public expenditure management. The network supports the formation of citizen committees to engage with local officials in conducting public hearings on budgetary matters in order to enhance civil society engagement in public expenditure management process starting from planning and budget formulation all the way to implementation and budget decision-making. The goal is to augment efforts to improve the quality and transparency of budget documents.
Involvement in budget management is a relatively new phenomenon for least developed countries, stemming from an emerging international consensus on the need for a more transparent and inclusive budgeting processes, and for an increased civil society participation in development policies in general. In Sudan, civil society was traditionally excluded from the budget process, but now with the support of UNDP and other international institutions this is changing progressively.
UNDP through training and workshops equipped civil society organizations with the appropriate complementary capacities and skills on budget management and public hearing process. In addition, UNDP facilitated exposure for NGOs to leadership skills, analysis capacity, negotiation and communication skills and resource mobilization strategies. This has resulted in a rapid impact of civil society participation in the process of drafting budget and conducting of public hearings.
Says Fatima, “Since the involvement of network in the budget process the network has become a trusted partner of the state government in decentralized budgetary consultations and decision-making. The interactions with government are deepening even as the quality of consultations varies across levels of government and government departments”. As of now, the network enjoys a strong consultative relationship with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Local Governance. The network is making efforts to make similar inroads with Work is rather than with other ministries.
Surayo, Buzurukova, the UNDP Regional Programme Coordinator, Governance and Rule of Law for the Eastern Sudan noted that civil society networks are well-suited to complement government efforts to explain budgets and plans to ordinary people in a more accessible language, and to disseminate this knowledge to local communities. ”A fully empowered civil society network in Red Sea State will act as a powerful information and distribution network which will help to bring public officials closer to the people”, she observed.
Kumar Tiku: Head, Communications Unit, UNDP Sudan: firstname.lastname@example.org