Open Budget Survey News & Updates
Open Budget Survey Release Events
The International Budget Partnership and our partners have presented the findings of the Open Budget Survey 2017 at release events around the world.
Open Budgets, Transform Lives: The State of Budget Transparency and Accountability Globally, European Commission, Brussels
The International Budget Partnership presented the results from the Open Budget Survey 2017 at a European Commission International Cooperation and Development InfoPoint session. The discussion focused on the implications of the survey results and suggestions for improving countries’ public finance systems.
Improving Zimbabwe’s Performance on the Open Budget Survey
The International Budget Partnership participated in a workshop on the Open Budget Survey co-hosted by the National Association of Non Governmental Organisations (NANGO) and UNICEF Zimbabwe. In attendance were representatives from the Office of the Auditor General, the Parliamentary Budget Office, the Zimbabwe Economic Policy Analysis and Research Unit (ZEPARU), and several departments of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, including the Accountant General’s office, the Debt Management Office, the Fiscal Policy and Advisory Services, the Expenditure Department, and the Revenue Department. During the workshop, participants discussed the findings of the Open Budget Survey 2017, and identified actions to improve budget transparency and Zimbabwe’s performance on the next round of the Open Budget Survey.
Towards Greater Transparency, Participation, and Accountability in Africa
The International Budget Partnership, the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency, the Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative, and the Ministry of Budget of the Republic of Guinea gathered representatives from the ministries of finance of Benin, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal together with members of civil society to discuss progress on budget transparency and participation in the region. During the workshop, participants established links between budget transparency, participation, and accountability based on practical cases of regional and international experience; discussed the benefits of transparency and participation; and identified opportunities for ministries of finance to improve budget transparency and participation practices in their countries.
Budget Transparency in the Middle East and North Africa
The International Budget Partnership and the International Monetary Fund co-hosted a workshop on Budget Transparency in the Middle East and North Africa on 14-15 February 2018. The workshop brought together representatives from government finance ministries, international development agencies, and civil society organizations that are engaged in budget transparency issues. Government attendees included representatives from the finance ministries of Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. Civil society attendees included representatives from Integrity Watch Afghanistan, the Egyptian Center for Public Policy Studies, the Iraq Institute for Economic Reform, Partners-Jordan, and Financial Services Volunteer Corps, Jordan. International development attendees included representatives from UNICEF Middle East and North Africa Regional Office and the World Bank. During the workshop, participants reviewed the Open Budget Survey (OBS) research process and timeline and explored in-depth country-specific results. Workshop participants discussed how civil society uses budget information, engages in budget processes, and supports government in reform efforts. Finance ministry representatives explored opportunities for making key budget documents more comprehensive and useful, and participants worked together to define actions plan to improve budget transparency at the country level, including increased collaboration and peer-to-peer learning between countries.
Fundación Solidaridad Seminar on Budget Transparency, Santiago, Dominican Republic
International Budget Partnership partner Fundación Solidaridad (Solidarity Foundation) held a seminar on budget transparency in light of the results of the Open Budget Survey 2017. Speakers included Laura Castillo, researcher, Fundación Solidaridad; María José Eva Parada, International Budget Partnership; Luis Reyes Santos, Director General of the Budget Office; legislator Víctor D’Aza; Oscar Díaz, consultant of the European Union for the Chamber of Accounts; and Rafael Jovine of OxFam for the Dominican Republic. Seminar participants included representatives from multiple institutions and civil society.
The Open Budget Survey 2017 Presentation, Paris
The International Budget Partnership presented the Open Budget Survey 2017 findings and recommendations in meetings with the OECD and the French government, including the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Expertise France and the Agence française de développement. The participants discussed challenges on both the supply and demand side in advancing budget transparency and participation and how development partners can support reform efforts at the country, regional and global level.
The Open Budget Survey 2017 Presentation for UKAid (Department for International Development), London
Jason Lakin and Claire Schouten from the International Budget Partnership presented the findings and recommendations of the Open Budget Survey 2017 to UKAid program officers and directors and discussed how bilateral donors might support improvement in budget practices in their partner countries. IBP partners George Oseih Bempeh from SEND-Ghana; Eka Gigauri, from Transparency International Georgia; James Muraguri from the Institute of Public Finance Kenya; Oluseun Onigbinde from BudgIT; and Adriano Alfredo Nuvunga from Centro de Integridade Pública (CIP) in Mozambique provided their perspective of what change does – or does not – look like on the ground.
Finding the Money: Fiscal Transparency in Emerging Markets – Blackrock’s London Office
Hosted by the Emerging Markets Investors Alliance, this event convened investors in sovereign debt from several global private investment firms to discuss how the Open Budget Survey 2017 findings relate to the level of investment risk posed by poor budget transparency and accountability in countries and how the investment community could effectively promote more open and accountable public finance. Moderated by Giulia Pellegrini from Blackrock, the event drew on expertise from speakers and panelists from Bloomberg, the IMF and OECD, the International Budget Partnership, and the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency.
Open Budget Survey Global Release Event – London, U.K.
Government officials, policymakers, civil society representatives, and others joined together for a discussion on the latest findings from the Open Budget Survey 2017 on the state of government budget transparency and accountability in 115 countries around the world. Watch a recording of the event here.
Speakers and Panelists included: Harriett Baldwin, Minister of State for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister of State at the Department for International Development; Mamuka Bakhtadze, Minister of Finance of Georgia; Khalid Payenda, Deputy Minister of Finance of Afghanistan; Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary General of CIVICUS; Alta Fölscher, Principal Consultant, Mokoro; Giulia Pellegrini, Portfolio Manager in the Emerging Markets Debt team at BlackRock and Director of Research for Frontier Markets; Carolina Renteria Rodriguez, Division Chief, Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF; and Vivek Ramkumar, Senior Director of Policy, International Budget Partnership.
Open Budget Survey Global Release Event – Washington, D.C
Government officials, policymakers, civil society representatives, and others joined together for a discussion on the findings from the Open Budget Survey 2017, co-hosted with Oxfam America and The World Bank. Watch a recording of the event here.
The event was moderated by Dr. Sanjeev Khagram, John Parke Young Chair in Global Political Economy. Speakers and panelists included: Jan Walliser, Vice President, Equitable Growth, Finance, and Institutions, World Bank; Mamuka Bakhtadze, Minister of Finance of Georgia; Eklil Ahmad Hakimi, Minister of Finance of Afghanistan; Fernando Galindo Favela, Undersecretary of Expenses in Mexico; Manal Fouad, Division Chief, Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF; Mary Beth Goodman, former special assistant to President Obama; Ian Gary, Director, Accountable Development Finance, Oxfam America; and Vivek Ramkumar, Senior Director of Policy, International Budget Partnership.
Government Responses to the Open Budget Survey 2017
By measuring how transparent and accountable governments’ budgets are in comparison to over 100 countries around the world, the Open Budget Survey pressures governments to improve, provides them with practical steps they can take, and recognizes those that do so. IBP and its civil society partners are encouraged by the steps several governments have taken to acknowledge the results of the Open Budget Survey and the actions they have taken to make their budget systems more open and responsive.
Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance from Indonesia, says the Open Budget Survey is “a very valuable source of information for government, civil society, and many stakeholders,” and “can provide a snapshot of the strength of the institutions and practices that will hold government to account for how it manages and uses scarce public resources.” Minister Indrawati speaks further about the release of the Open Budget Survey 2017 and the importance of budget transparency, oversight, and participation in Indonesia in this video.
In a statement on the South African Government website, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba applauded the country’s Open Budget Survey 2017 results in which South Africa achieved a score of 89 out of 100 for budget transparency, an improvement from its score of 86 in 2015. Minister Gigaba said South Africans should be proud of this achievement, which “is evidenced by the expansive budget information that is published for public analysis and scrutiny.”
The statement also details the national treasury’s efforts to improve public participation in the budget process, including working closely with civil society organizations to develop an online budget portal that provides easily accessible budget data to provide South African citizens with necessary information on how taxes are being generated and how budgets are allocated and spent. Minister Gigaba reiterated these points in his 2018 Budget Speech, delivered on 21 February 2018.
Georgia’s Finance Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze acknowledged the results of the Open Budget Survey 2017, in which Georgia is ranked among the top 5 countries in budget transparency.
The Minister said that 5th place among 115 countries is a huge achievement for Georgia, and shows that the already implemented reforms in the country have brought positive results.
“This is a great success, and each of our reforms and initiatives are focused on the major challenges in our country, such as unemployment and poverty,” he said.
Bakhtadze added that Georgia’s achievement in the Open Budget Index will bring more investment to Georgia.
Egypt’s Ministry of Finance acknowledged the results of the Open Budget Survey 2017 in a statement on its website, saying Egypt’s 25 point improvement in budget transparency since the 2015 survey “resulted from the efforts exerted during the past three years to develop the transparency and disclosure frameworks.”
Vice Minister of Finance for Fiscal Policies Ahmed Kouchouk said that the ministry is keen on continuing the citizen’s budget initiative and preserving the ongoing communication process with the public, saying it is the citizen’s “total right to take part into preparing the budget that eventually will reflect his needs and provide better future for his descendants.”
Sara Eid, Deputy Director of Macro Fiscal Policy Unit, Chief Editor, and Responsible for the Transparency Initiative said Egypt’s “main goal is not achieving high transparency score, but rather the final impact of this initiative on the daily life of the citizens as well as improving the standard of governmental services through raising the efficiency of public expenditure and by taking his opinion into account while making crucial decisions related to public policy.”
The government of the Republic of Slovenia acknowledged the findings of the Open Budget Survey 2017 in a statement on its website, saying “Slovenia is ranked immediately behind Canada and ahead of Germany, being in the group of countries with a transparent budget process.”
The Department of Budget and Management acknowledged the results of the Open Budget Survey 2017 in a press release on its website. “We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished to date. In surpassing our Asian neighbors, we have further cemented our position as a global leader in Open Government. It encourages us to persevere, to do even better, in the years ahead,” Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said. “The Department of Budget and Management will continue to work with the legislature, our constitutional bodies, and our citizens to further enhance budget openness in the public sector.”
Secretary Diokno also discussed the department’s current efforts to further improve the government’s fiscal transparency rating at a Knowledge Forum on the results of the 2017 Open Budget Survey, specifically mentioning the creation of a Fiscal Openness Working Group, the Open Government Regional Dialogue Series, and the Budget Reform Bill. Secretary Diokno told the media in an interview after the event that the department is looking at how to expand participatory mechanisms from the local government level.
Papua New Guinea
At a Open Budget Survey 2017 release event hosted by the Institute of National Affairs, Minister for Treasury Charles Abel said the government has made progress in making the national budget transparent, but the ranking on the Open Budget Survey does not reflect the truth. Minister Abel said the government has been responsive to the Open Budget Survey report, and the 2017 Supplementary Budget is in response to the report.
“Our ranking has changed,” he said. “Generally we have improved but the report is not reflective of the truth. Relatively from 2015, we are improving and we are not below the bottom but aspiring to do better.”
The Republic of Azerbaijan Chamber of Accounts highlighted the country’s improvement in oversight scores from 2015 to 2017 in a statement on its website.
“In the report issued in 2015 in terms of budget oversight the activity of the legislature was assessed with 37, but the activity of the Supreme Audit Instituion with 50 points. In the last report presented in January, 2017 the activity of the legislature and Supreme Audit Institution of the Republic of Azerbaijan was evaluated with 63 points out of 100, as well as, it was mentioned that budget oversight is adequate. The activity of the Chamber of Accounts as the Supreme Audit Institution of the Republic of Azerbaijan regarding budget oversight is evaluated with 83 points out of 100. In the evaluation, conduction of all types of audit namely compliance, financial and performance audits as a pilot), also preparation of short review reflecting main results of the report (regarding public awareness) on annual activity by the Chamber of Accounts are evaluated with 100 points.”
General Budget Department Spokesperson Muhammad Okeili acknowledged Jordan’s Open Budget Index 2017 ranking improvement and attributed the country’s progress to the improvements implemented over the past two years on procedures of preparing the budget and the quality of information mentioned in budget documents.
Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein said he will not entirely shoot down the latest Open Budget Survey findings, but he disputes the finding that there is no provision for opportunities for the public to engage in the budget process according to an interview published in The Villager.
Minister Schlettwein said that the Open Budget Survey results stand as a basis to foster innovation to further fortify strength, redress weaknesses, and leverage on reform opportunities. He said while the outcome does not reflect a poor record, it points to specific areas of doing things differently and keeping abreast with innovation and reform in the public finance management arena.
“We do not entirely dismiss some of the findings, we believe that being rated and to be seen as among other peers is important for us to benchmark ourselves and improve. We also believe that we do quite a lot and perhaps what we do visa vis standards set out do not come into the perspective of the survey. We take this is a constructive opinion.”
Open Budget Survey Blog Posts
Open Budgets Blog posts from International Budget Partnership staff and partners about the Open Budget Survey 2017.
Volatility and the Africa Budget Transparency Puzzle: Can Levels of Institutionalization Help Explain the Open Budget Survey 2017 Results?
The Open Budget Survey 2017 recorded a global decline in average budget transparency scores for the first time since the survey’s inception. Nowhere was this decline more pronounced than in sub-Saharan Africa, in which 15 countries saw their Open Budget Index scores drop by more than five points. Is a lack of institutionalization of budget transparency practices to blame? And is examining this issue at the country level sufficient enough to understand how budget transparency practices evolve over time?
Stalling Progress on Budget Transparency: What Does It Mean?
The most significant finding of the Open Budget Survey 2017 is that after a decade of steady progress, global average government budget transparency has actually dropped. Stalling progress toward greater budget transparency—fueled by outright declines in some countries—is consistent with a broader set of indicators that in recent years point to democratic recession, declining civic space, and faltering commitment to the rule of law around the world. For this reason, the survey’s 2017 findings have faced widespread acceptance in our discussions globally. They are of a piece with the zeitgeist.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Failure to Institutionalize Past Gains Weakens Transparency
The Open Budget Survey 2017 records the first halt in progress on global budget transparency since the survey was launched in 2006. Unlike the small but steady increases seen in past rounds, the global average score on the Open Budget Index — the part of the survey that measures budget transparency — actually decreased from 45 to 43 between 2015 and 2017 among the 102 countries included in both rounds. The modest decline in the global average score is primarily attributed to changes in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the regional average score fell by 11 points, representing a significant reversal for a region that had been a major driver of the increase in the global average scores in 2015.
Dominican Republic: Sustained Progress in Transparency Must Be Matched by Improvements in Public Participation
Few countries have steadily sustained strong increases to budget transparency as the Dominican Republic. The country’s score on the Open Budget Index has risen 37 points since 2012, thereby making it one of the top five scores in the Latin American region in 2017, after Mexico, Brazil, and Peru. The Dominican Republic’s 2017 score of 66 out of a possible 100 on budget transparency is substantially higher than the global average score of 42. But while these gains are impressive, more work is necessary to ensure they translate into meaningful public participation.
Recommended Reading on the Release of the Open Budget Survey
On 6 February 2018, the International Budget Partnership and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) co-hosted an event in London, U.K. to address the decline in global budget transparency. Government officials, policymakers, and civil society representatives discussed the findings from the Open Budget Survey 2017 and Harriet Baldwin, joint minister of state for DFID and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, launched DFID’s new transparency agenda, “Open Aid, Open Societies: A Vision for a Transparent World.” Watch a recording of the event, and read more about the release of the Open Budget Survey 2017.
Budget Backslide: The Global Decline of Budget Transparency in 2017
On 31 January 2018, IBP cohosted a global release event with the World Bank and Oxfam in Washington, D.C., to discuss key findings of the Open Budget Survey 2017, and how governments, civil society, and other stakeholders can use the information offered in the report to improve budget transparency practices in their countries.