Pandemic did not undo accountable budgeting practices worldwide survey finds


The International Budget Partnership (IBP) unveiled its latest Open Budget Survey,which found that most countries preserved accountable spendingpractices in their annual budget processes during the pandemic. The Dominican Republic has entered the top 10 performers who are leading the way in advancingand institutionalizingtransparency, while South Korea is spearheading inclusive practices for public consultation in the budget process. Benin,Nigeria and the Gambia are among the biggest improvers in this round of the survey.

“Accountability systems are still weakoverall, but several countries are showing that where there is political will, progress is possible,”said Anjali Garg, head of the Open Budget Survey. “Open budget practices are a winning proposition–theybuild public trust that governments can deliverand can lead to lower borrowing costs at a time when global debtand inequalityis at all-timehigh. We hope more countries will be emboldened to open up their budget process to public consultation and scrutiny to ensure scarce resources reach those who need them most.”

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Somewhat surprisingly, thepandemic did not undohard-fought gains in transparent and accountable budgeting practices worldwide. Most countrieswereable to maintain,and in some cases build on earlier gainsin their annual budget processes,thanks to increased digitalization of information and the institutionalization of accountability practices.

The average transparency score has increased more than 20 percent since 2008. Eastern Europe and Central Asia, East Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean and Sub-SaharanAfrica(after a dip in the OBS 2017) have made significant strides in transparency since 2008.However, the survey foundthatlegislative oversight has declined due to political unrest, the pandemic and executive overreach. Some executivegovernments have foundways to undermine Supreme Audit Institutions while staying within the boundaries of the law.

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Less than a thirdof countries provide sufficiently detailed information to understand how their budget addresses poverty and only 14 percent present their expenditures by gender.Only 8 countries worldwide have formal channels to engage underserved communities in budget processes.“We need an all-hand on deck approach so thateveryone has a say in how and how much public money is collected, borrowed and spent,” said Vivek Ramkumar, senior directorof policy forIBP. “Reform-minded countries, and donors,mustinvest in fiscal accountability systems that empower key government agencies, legislators, national auditors, civil society groupsand the public to ensure public funds are managed effectively and equitably. We are heartened to see the progress that Nigeria and other countrieshave made in the survey,” said Austin Ndiokwelu, Nigeria country manager for IBP. “Inclusion pays dividends. Weurge governmentstosustain progress and engagecommunities more meaningfully around their revenue and spending priorities.Communityfeedbackcan help governments better manage vital public resources.”

The Open Budget is the world’s only comparative, independent and regular assessment of transparency, oversight and public participation in public budgets in 120 countries.