How Transparent are Governments When it Comes to Their Budget’s Impact on Poverty and Inequality?

By By Paolo de Renzio, International Budget Partnership, Feb 21, 2019

This paper looks at the information governments provide on the impact of their budget policies on poor and disadvantaged groups – and on poverty and inequality more generally. The analysis is based on the results of three questions from the Open Budget Survey 2017 meant to hone in on these issues. Findings demonstrate that, on average, governments publish very little information on these topics, thereby limiting the ability of civil society to monitor these efforts and hold their governments accountable.

Cover: How Transparent are Governments When it Comes to Their Budget’s Impact on Poverty and Inequality?

Reframing Public Finance: Promoting Justice, Democracy, and Human Rights in Government Budgets

By Paolo de Renzio and Jason Lakin, International Budget Partnership, Feb 14, 2019

This paper outlines the elements of a proposal to reframe debates around public finance and government budgets, drawing on the inter-related concepts of justice, democracy, and human rights, and putting more emphasis on issues of equity, sustainability, effectiveness and inclusion. The authors address some of the shortcomings of current approaches and propose a more solid, normative foundation on which public finance decisions can be assessed and taken.

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Impact Case Study 1: Ekurhuleni

Feb 13, 2019

This is the first case study from a social audit conducted by IBP, the Social Audit Network (SAN), Planact and 13 informal settlement communities in Ekurhuleni on the provision and maintenance of portable toilets. A social audit is a community-led process of engaging government about poor services by monitoring service delivery on the basis of government commitments contained in budgets and other official documents.

Tax Expenditures in Latin America: A Civil Society Perspective

By Paolo de Renzio, International Budget Partnership, Jan 16, 2019

Tax expenditures — provisions that reduce the amount of tax that is paid by providing special treatment to a particular class of individual, industry, or activity — have been on the rise in Latin America and represent a reduction of between 10 and 20 percent in total revenues collected by governments, with questionable impact. Because the available evidence shows tax expenditures tend to generate economic distortions and worsen inequality, civil society groups are increasingly becoming interested in engaging with tax expenditures to hold governments accountable for this important and opaque area of public finance. This paper examines tax policy and tax expenditures in Latin America and the role that civil society can play in related debates.

Fiscal Futures: Scenario Thinking for Fiscal Transparency and Accountability

By Anja Rudiger, International Budget Partnership, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Transparency & Accountability Initiative, Dec 10, 2018

This publication presents four stories that envision public finance in the year 2040 and illustrate the crucial role of public finance systems and policies in advancing — or undermining — economic equality, social justice, sustainable development, and human rights. Organizations working in the fiscal transparency and accountability field can draw on these scenarios to stimulate a dialogue about long-term strategies for advancing fiscal transparency and accountability in ways that will contribute to positive change in the lives of the poor and marginalized.

Which Procurement Information Should We Publish? Recommendations for Metropolitan Municipalities in South Africa

By International Budget Partnership South Africa, Dec 03, 2018

Many communities living in informal settlements in metropolitan municipalities in South Africa receive basic services such as water, sanitation and refuse removal from outsourced service providers. This paper provides a detailed overview of the minimum level of procurement information South African metropolitan municipalities should be publishing on their supply chain management websites to support public engagement in the monitoring of the delivery of outsourced services and engagement in the tender process.

Systemic Challenges Facing the Procurement of Outsourced Basic Services for Informal Settlements in South Africa

By Carlene van der Westhuizen, International Budget Partnership South Africa, Dec 03, 2018

In South African metropolitan municipalities, the provision of basic services like water, sanitation, and electricity to urban informal settlements is an ongoing struggle, but very little is known about what specifically goes wrong. This research examines the findings of social audits, provider bid specifications, and interviews with municipal officials to identify the systemic causes of outsourced service delivery challenges and outlines several issues local governments could address to improve service delivery to informal settlements at scale.

South Africa: A Guide to Finding Information About Municipal Contracted Services in Your Community

By International Budget Partnership South Africa, Nov 26, 2018

This guide is designed to help informal settlement communities in South Africa find the documents that provide information about a service being delivered to their community, which can be used to monitor if services are being delivered according to government contracts, and to engage with the government to improve the delivery of the service.

Program Budget Structure in the Health Sector: A Review of Program-Based Budgeting Practices in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

By Jason Lakin, Ph.D., Sally Torbert, and Suad Hasan, Nov 07, 2018

Program-based budgeting is about making budgets more transparent, ensuring that public money is spent on the right priorities, and linking budgets more closely to the purposes of spending. Program structure in program-based budgeting is central to some of the most fundamental questions in public finance reform. This paper, prepared with financial and technical assistance from the World Health Organization, aims to contribute to the global knowledge of program budgeting in low- and middle-income countries through the lens of program structure and its definition and evolution in the health sector.

Program-Based Budgeting in Health in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A New Dataset

By Jason Lakin, Ph.D. and Suad Hasan, Nov 07, 2018

A persistent challenge for both reformers and budget users in many countries undertaking the transition to program budgeting is learning about practices in other countries. This dataset and technical note, produced as part of research undertaken for a larger World Health Organization project, contains an assessment of budget documents from 30 low- and middle-income countries with some form of program budgeting. A brief technical note describes the data collected and offers a summary of what it tells us, and the dataset contains the full assessment and additional notes.