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SHANGLA: Participants of a seminar held here the other day called for transparency and citizens’ participation in budget-making process at the district level in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The seminar titled ‘district government budget rules 2016’ was organised by Centre for Peace and Development Initiative (CPDI) in Bisham, which was attended by members of local government, social activists and village council secretaries.

“The first draft of the district budget should be presented in April to ensure timely input from citizens,” said Raja Shoaib Akbar, programme manager of CPDI.

He said they had conducted a study which revealed that the budget-making process lacked transparency and citizens’ participation at the district level in the province.

He added that only two districts had functional websites while 85 posts remained vacant in district budget branches.

Shamsul Hadi, CPDI’s KP coordinator, said that the local governments had failed to include stakeholders in budget-making process.

He said none of the districts released pre-budget statement that according to the budget rules was mandatory and would have provided the stakeholders a chance to express their opinion on the budget proposals.

Pre-budget consultation with stakeholders was also not held in 30 per cent of the districts.

According to the budget rules, budget call letter (BCL) must be issued in September as the first step of budget making.

He said the study showed only six districts had issued the BCL till November 15.

Mr Hadi said that the districts were not making use of information technology to share information with citizens, as only two districts had own functional websites.

He said that not a single district issued a citizens budget which was meant to share salient features of the final budget with citizens in easy to understand language.

According to the officials, the budget branches in districts also faced shortage of human resource.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2018