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Take budget consultations seriously!


It is that time of the year when local authorities across the country commence the much-anticipated
2024 budget consultative meetings.

These gatherings are crucial platforms for residents and stakeholders to contribute their valuable
insights, to shape the final budget document.

However, it is disheartening to note the general apathy witnessed during previous consultative
meetings, as residents choose to boycott them, expressing their discontent over ignored inputs. This
lack of engagement jeopardises the effectiveness of the budgeting process and undermines the
potential for positive change within communities.

As the local government budgeting cycle is now in full swing, we implore residents and stakeholders
to actively participate in this significant exercise that directly impacts their lives and the
development of their respective communities. Their involvement and input are invaluable in
ensuring that the budget adequately addresses the needs and aspirations of all.

In the spirit of inclusivity and the commitment to leave no one behind, we urge local authorities
and councillors to proactively engage with all citizens, particularly those from vulnerable and
marginalised groups who are the primary beneficiaries of these budget consultations. By reaching
out extensively, authorities can create an environment where every voice is heard and valued.

To ensure maximum participation, it is essential for local authorities to collaborate with residents
and ratepayers associations, churches, and civic leaders. These influential community figures can
play a pivotal role in mobilising residents and encouraging their attendance at the consultation
meetings. By leveraging their networks and influence, they can create a stronger sense of
community ownership and active engagement in the budgeting process.

To enhance transparency and accountability, councils should establish a comprehensive consultation
schedule, clearly indicating the venues and dates of the meetings. Additionally, it is crucial for
councils to produce a detailed report that includes participation statistics and highlights the key
issues raised during the consultations. Such reports will provide a transparent record of the process
and ensure that residents voices are documented and taken into consideration when formulating
the final budget.

Citizen participation and accountability are vital in formulating an inclusive and pro-poor budget that
supports sustainable local development. Residents should have an active role in determining how
their hard-earned money is utilised, as previous instances of councils imposing budgets on
ratepayers can lead to disconnection and dissatisfaction.

By actively engaging in the budget consultations, residents can shape the allocation of resources in
their respective wards, ensuring that their needs and priorities are adequately addressed.
It is essential for councils to educate residents on Programme Based Budgeting (PBB), project
identification and prioritization, budget proposals, and other strategies aimed at improving budget

Failure to engage stakeholders adequately may result in the Ministry of Local Government, Public
Works, and National Housing withholding approval of the final budget.

While it is important for councils to fulfil the government directive of conducting budget
consultations, it is equally important that these consultations are not treated as mere formalities.
Councils should approach these engagements with genuine intent, valuing the input and concerns
raised by residents and stakeholders.

The focus should be on discussing development and service delivery, rather than turning the
consultations into political meetings.

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