Director of Programming and Budget Nnenna Nwabufo along with colleagues at the department literally watch over the AfDB’s purse while ensuring that resources required for accomplishing set tasks and goals are made available to operations personnel. The Master’s of Resources Administration of the UK’s Healey Management College speaks on the inner workings of her department and how it assists the Bank to achieve its mandate of funding regional member-countries’ development programme.
How would you describe the role of budgeting in an organisation?
First of all, I want to thank AnnualMeetings Daily for its interest in programming and budget which are part of the areas the Bank has taken adequate measures to strengthen over the years. As you know, budgeting in an organization like the AfDB plays the important role of ensuring that adequate financial resources are allocated to the various Organization Units, based on their planned activities. In the AfDB, programming and budgeting are inter-linked and are aimed at supporting institutional priorities. They uphold the Bank’s watchword to achieve the strategic objectives of our organization. In carrying out this process, it is absolutely important to ensure that the principles of transparency, objectivity, flexibility, cost-effectiveness and accountability are adhered to. This ensures equity and financial security. A good budgeting process therefore should also have clearly defined benchmark indicators for Bank-wide operational tasks. In fact, such a deliverable and performance measurement framework does not only indicate how budget performance can be monitored and evaluated but also how they can help to make the relevant comparisons for common operational tasks across the Bank. In this regard, budgeting provides an effective tool of management and board oversights that can limit unnecessary financial wastes.
To what extent would you say the Office has contributed to the smooth running of the AfDB?
A lot of course. The Office has immensely helped in streamlining administrative and operational services demands with enhanced responsibilities and “good processes” approaches especially for our Institution that is seen as encouraging good governance throughout the continent. Without a good resource allocation mechanism and related performance management framework, no organization can function effectively. Our situation in the AfDB cannot be any different. As I said earlier, the Programming and Budget Department is strategically placed in the Bank’s organizational structure to ensure that the required resources are available for all Organization Units to execute their work programs in line with the Bank’s mission and development objectives. In this regard, the Department is certainly contributing its part in the smooth running of the Bank. We have remained focused on our work objectives. We have instilled a fundamental culture of accountability, financial prudence and performance-based approach in expenditure. We are judiciously engaged and committed with clear understanding of our responsibilities to the Bank and Africa; and we are listening and addressing the concerns of our clients attentively. That is our recipe for success.
How has the Sixth General Capital Increase (GCI-6) impacted on the Bank’s budgets and programmes?
The GCI-VI or the Sixth ADB Capital Increase, still remains an unforgettable milestone achieved by the present administration of the Bank. As you know, in 2010, the Bank’s capital resources drastically increased by 200 percent from about USD 35.0 billion to some USD 100 billion. This level of resources has sustained a much higher level of lending in response to an equally overwhelming demand in Regional Member Countries. The most important message the Sixth Capital Increase sent to the world was the strong support of the Bank’s shareholders. This is what we at times refer to as membership support, which goes to propel the Bank’s AAA ratings, giving it the same premium financial rating status as its sister multilateral development institutions.
The Capital Increase also attests to the confidence of the Bank’s shareholders in particular and the international community in general, in what the Bank’s Board and Senior Management, led by the President, is doing. Of course when your shareholders show such unmistakable support and confidence, it is a green light to aim for higher heights. Consequently, within the Bank, the overall objectives of accompanying Regional Member Countries in their quest to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic, social and political development, simply means increased call on every Department and organizational Unit of the Bank, including notably the Programming and Budget Department. For us in the Department, the bottomline always lies with the financial resources to achieve these objectives and definitely the GCI-6 has given the Bank that impetus to do more.
How effective has the Bank been in monitoring its budget implementations and programs?
I am glad you have raised the vital issue of monitoring. In the AfDB, there is always that drive to ensure that much more work needs to be done if the beneficiary and the Bank need to build mutual trust among each other. We are glad to report that the Bank’s monitoring of budget and work program implementation is very effective as this is a necessary tool in performance evaluation. To ensure consistent and regular monitoring, we do produce quarterly reports on capital and administrative budget implementation and performance. At the end of the year, we also prepare the Annual Retrospective Review report, which looks at the performance for the entire previous year. It is important to note that we do not just prepare the report, the initial performance results are shared, reviewed and discussed with the Vice Presidencies and the management team in order to understand the reasons driving the results. This dialogue is usually handled by a combined team from the Budget, Strategy and Policy departments. The information obtained is very useful in preparing the retrospective review to draw correct conclusions and lessons learnt from the Bank’s performance.
In a complex organization like the AfDB, coordination is an indispensable tool in accomplishing set goals. To what extent has effective coordination enhanced the activities of the Bank?
As we all would recognise, Africa needs a Bank that is fired with renewed imagination and transformative innovations to address the huge development needs. Transformation is rightly the theme of this year’s annual meetings. May I emphasize the fact that working and communicating effectively have assumed a new urgency in the Bank. A “One Bank” concept has become a constant refrain for Senior Management. This simply implies that the staff from the top to the least must see themselves as working towards a common vision and a common goal.
No-one can afford to be left out as this shared/common vision now drives all of us to see how we can work better as a team. A team has the obligation of supporting and coordinating with each other to ensure that the mission of the Bank, which is poverty reduction on the continent, is effectively accomplished. I am happy therefore to conclude that whether for poverty alleviation or for the economic transformation agenda etc, the Programming and Budget Department has always been available to play a strategic coordinating role in ensuring that the necessary resources are available so that these objectives are met. I call on AnnualMeetings Daily to help the Bank in propagating the idea in Africa that proper coordination is very important, a sine qua non factor in all matters of development. If we all play our roles properly, both at the organizational and institutional levels, there is no reason we cannot successfully ensure a bright future for Africa and our children.