Parliament’s $6m Three-year Strategic Budget Indicates 54% Deficit

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Climate Change, Capacity Building Priorities Reliant On Devt. Partners Support

By Chinelo Chikelu

The ECOWAS Parliament’s $6.6m three years strategic goals budget for years 2018-2020 indicates a 54 per cent deficit, an equivalent of $3, 554, 317m funding gap in technical and financial resource gap, it aims to bridge through collaboration with development partners.

Of all budgeted strategic goals, climate change, agriculture and capacity building had the least provisions from the institution’s existing funds sourced from the inadequate community levy, and largely reliant on development partners support. Totaling up to $580, 160 in deficit, environmental, climate change and agricultural funding needs stands at $380, 160, these include climate change adaptation and climate change observatories, rural livestock, farmer herdsmen conflict workshop, Great Green Wall initiatives, and agriculture; while budgeted capacity building workshops for legislators on Community Cyber Development Security and, Community Budget Review & Arbitration stands at $200, 636.

However, there are a whole other list of unbudgeted technical support sought by the parliament from its development partners entrenched in its strategic plan document, and the Secretary General, Nelson Magbagbeola, has re-emphasized the importance of an adequately financed and equipped parliament to ensuring proper review of community budget and all ECOWAS programme implementing agencies.

Highlighting the asymmetrical flow of resources in ECOWAS institutions, Magbagbeola said without building the capacity of MPs on the five thematic areas of the ECOWAS’s strategic goals, parliament is incapacitated to performing its oversight functions. “This is the first-time parliament will be delivering judgement on community’s budget, it’s like a litmus test we need to pass. We need to empower MPs, because parliament cannot oversee institutions or agencies more knowledge or better financed than itself,” he concluded.

Areas of capacity building identified by parliamentarians at the break-out session on Climate Change and Capacity Building at the Donors Conference include, the orientation and retraining of new MPs after elections in member states, rebuilding of research, analytical, policy and lawmaking skills of MPs – majority of whom are poorly drafted and scrutinized, and arrangement of Legislative visits between member states for knowledge exchange.

Donors such as the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), UNITAR and UNIDO all present at the session indicated interest in supporting the climate change and, capacity building objectives of the parliament. However, to avoid a duplication of existing support programmes they run with regional organ at the Commission level, Senior Programmes Officer, ACBF, Dickson Antwi, recommended the legislature align its strategic plan with ACBF $700, 000. “They are preparing a 2018 to 2020 work programme of activities and budget. The two (NILS and ECOWAS Parliament), must sit and review each of the activities to ensure that it is captured, the budget provided for, and the activity done once. We don’t want the same activity to be repeated at different for a with different budgets,” Antwi concluded.

Meantime, Nigerian parliamentarian, Sen. Foster Ogola, acknowledging the increasingly scientific nature of climate change challenges proffered that parliament collaborate with the United Nations Institute of Training and Research (UNITAR), which possess the global technological and research skills “to train and transfer knowledge” to and affect positive change. He further advised the legislature engagement with UNITAR highlight “national disaster issues in the region at fore-front.”