By Sunday Iduh
The Benue State House of Assembly recently passed three important bills that will improve governance and enhance probity and accountability. They are: Benue State Fiscal Responsibility Bill, Benue State Public Debt Management Bill and Benue State Public Procurement Commission Bill.
The idea of Fiscal Responsibility implies that the government shall pursue appropriate level of public spending and tax to maintain sustainable public finances in order to provide for prudent management of the state’s resources to ensure long-term Macro-Economic stability of the state’s economy, greater accountability and transparency in fiscal operations within the state’s development blue print.
The Fiscal Responsibility Commission will also push for the realization of the Provisions of fiscal responsibility policies as obtainable in the world. The state’s Fiscal Responsibility Commission has the mandate to interface with the National Fiscal Responsibility Commission and will pave the way for more vigorous engagement with the business world and the international community, especially development partners and donor agencies.
Fiscal responsibility is essential to creating a better, stronger, more prosperous nation for the next generation. The choices we make today or fail to make will determine what kind of future our children and grandchildren inherit in the coming years.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) is designed to coordinate all forms of credit facilities on behalf of the state government. It is also empowered to evaluate the credit worthiness of the state, liaise with the National Debt Management Office, the Central Bank of Nigeria, internal and external lenders and determine when the state needs loans for development purposes and handling of emergencies. The DMO will help the state to liquidate loans obtained so that the state is not unnecessarily encumbered. This will enable the state to meet the needs of the masses. The Debt Management Office is a part of the fiscal reforms embarked upon by the state government for the efficient management of Benue’s external and domestic debt obligations at sustainable levels compatible with desired economic activities for growth and development.
It will establish and execute a strategy for managing government’s debts in order to raise the required amount of funding at the lowest possible cost over the medium to long term, consistent with a prudent degree of risk. It should also meet any other public debt management goals the government may have set, such as developing and maintaining an efficient market for government securities.
Prudent utilization of public debts leads to higher economic growth and adds to capacity to service and repay external and domestic debts. It also helps the government to accomplish its social and developmental goals.
The Public Procurement Commission Bill on the other hand has its cardinal objectives as the harmonization of existing government policies and practices on public procurement and ensuring probity, accountability and transparency in the procurement process.
Governments, just like private companies, have to buy goods and services for their operational needs. Public procurement has to do with the process by which governments and state-owned enterprises purchase goods and services from the private sector.
Procurement is applied so as to increase the profitability of a given organization. Profit in this context is not necessarily defined in monetary terms. Procurement in the public sector entails streamlining processes, reducing the prices and costs of raw materials and finding better supply sources.
These bills are aimed at perfecting the fiscal reforms of the government, place Benue State on the world map as one of the states in the Nigerian Federation which is economic development compliant, boost the confidence of development partners and speed up development in the state.