Analyzing Pre-Budget Statements

One opportunity to influence the Executive’s Budget Proposal in countries that make available the Pre-Budget Statement (the document that lays out the government’s macroeconomic assumptions, revenue and expenditure levels, debt and deficit limits, etc.) is for civil society organizations to analyze these assumptions and use the findings to influence the parameters of the proposed budget.

For example, IBP partner IDASA in South Africa has called the government’s revenue estimates into question by comparing actual revenues from several years to the estimates for those years to show a consistent pattern of underestimating revenue. Although this may not have the same negative fiscal repercussions in terms of deficits or debt as overestimating revenues, the risk-averse, conservative approach to estimating can have negative economic impacts and limit the government’s ability to respond as effectively to the needs of its people.

By analyzing Pre-Budget Statements, civil society organizations can:

  • Establish themselves as a source of valuable information
  • Identify questionable assumptions and potential problems before the budget proposal is finalized
  • Generate evidence that can support advocacy
  • Support the ability of the public to participate in the debate by providing useful and accessible information

Useful Guides and Publications

A Guide to Budget Work for NGOs

edited by Isaac ShapiroThis guide from the International Budget Partnership draws on the experiences of CSOs engaging in applied budget work to provide a systematic overview of the different aspects of effective budget analysis, with an emphasis on the activities and approaches CSOs might want to undertake in their initial years of budget work.

A Guide to Tax Work for NGOs

by Joel FriedmanThis guide from the International Budget Partnership is intended to help demystify revenue policy issues and give civil society budget groups the tools they need to influence revenue policy in the same way that they have been able to influence expenditure policy.

Primer on Civil Society Budget Work

by Siba Shankar Mohanty, Deepak L. Xavier, and Pooja ParvatiThis publication from the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability in India provides information and techniques for understanding and assessing provisions and public finance issues for civil society institutions engaged in budget work and advocacy.

Model Reports