Tajikistan with 25 scores placed in the ‘red zone’ of the 2015 Open Budget Index
DUSHANBE, November 5, 2015, Asia-Plus — To meet the world’s most pressing challenges – including ending poverty and addressing climate change – will require the wise investment of public resources. National budgets that are accountable, efficient, and effective are crucial.
Findings from the Open Budget Survey 2015 reveal that the vast majority of people live in countries that have inadequate systems for ensuring accountable budgets. Most countries surveyed provide insufficient information for civil society and the public to understand or monitor budgets, and only a small fraction of countries have appropriate mechanisms for the public to participation in budget processes.
Ninety-eight of 102 countries surveyed reportedly lack adequate systems for ensuring that public funds are used efficiently and effectively. Each of these 98 falls short on at least one of the key pillars of budget accountability: budget transparency; public participation; and formal oversight. Thirty-two countries fall short across all three pillars to account.
The Open Budget Survey has been conducted five times in the last decade, with previous rounds completed in 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012. The number of countries included in the Survey has grown over successive rounds, meaning that simple global averages are not a good indicator of overall progress. Between 2012 and 2015, the average OBI score for the 100 countries for which comparable data are available increased from 43 to 46.
Between 2012 and 2015, certain countries made remarkable progress in budget transparency. Thus, Kyrgyzstan’s Open Budget Index (OBI) score jumped from 20 in 2012 to 54 in 2015.
Kyrgyzstan (54) and Kazakhstan (51) are in the ‘yellow’ zone of the 2015 Open Budget Index.
Compared to its regional partners on a scale of ‘100’, Tajikistan is way below with 25 scores. Tajikistan is listed among the countries with OBI scores of between 21 and 40.
Algeria, Bolivia, Cambodia, Chad, China, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Iraq, Myanmar, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam have been among the least transparent countries (with OBI scores of 20 or less) every single year they have been in the Survey.
The International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey (OBS) is the world’s only independent, comparable measure of budget transparency, participation, and oversight.
The Open Budget Survey 2015 examines 102 countries from around the world, measuring three aspects of how governments are managing public finances: budget transparency: the amount, level of detail, and timeliness of budget information governments are making publically available (each country is given a score between 0 and 100 that determines its ranking on the Open Budget Index); budget participation: the opportunities governments are providing to civil society and the general public to engage in decisions about how public resources are raised and spent; and budget oversight: the capacity and authority of formal institutions (such as legislatures and supreme audit institutions) to understand and influence how public resources are being raised and spent.
Results from the Open Budget Survey 2015 reveal large gaps in the amount of budget information that governments are making available to the public. The average OBI score of the 102 countries surveyed in 2015 is 45 out of 100. A large majority of the countries assessed – in which 68 percent of the world’s population live – provide insufficient budget information. These 78 countries have OBI scores of 60 or less. A troubling 17 countries provide scant or no budget information, with scores of 20 or less. The Survey found that around one-third of budget documents that should be available to the public are not. They were either not produced at all, produced for internal use only, or published too late to be useful. Of particular concern, governments in 16 countries failed to even publish the foundational document that describes the government’s proposed budget policies, the Executive’s Budget Proposal.
The report investigates some of the circumstances under which transparency appears more likely. Not surprisingly, it finds that the 24 countries assessed to be providing sufficient budget information tend to have higher levels of income, a freer press, and stronger democratic systems than the countries that provide insufficient budget information. Interestingly, more transparent countries are also typically perceived to be less corrupt. But this investigation includes some surprising findings.
Countries that score between 41 and 60 are almost as likely to publish budget documents as those with scores above 60.