Records dismal scores in citizens’ participation
By John Eche, with agency reports
South Africa is currently leading the world in the critical arena of the transparency of its budget processes, a survey has disclosed.
The African nation is almost sharing the top spot with New Zealand on the transparency of its budget processes, according to the Open Budget Survey 2017.
The survey, conducted by International Budget Partnership (IBP), reveals that South Africa provides the public with extensive budget information and scores 89 out of 100 on this score
However, though the country ranked highly in terms of transparency and budget oversight, it posted a dismally very low ranking in terms of public participation with a score of 24.
The IBP considers countries that score above 60 on the Open Budget Index (OBI) as providing sufficient budget information to enable the public to engage in budget discussions in an informed manner.
It also considers countries scoring above 60 on participation and oversight as providing adequate opportunities for the public to participate in the budget process and providing adequate oversight practices, respectively.
IBP said for South Africa to improve its score on transparency, it should increase the information provided in the executive’s budget proposal by including more data on the financial position of the government.
There is also need to “increase the information provided in the Year-End Report by including more information on the comparisons between planned revenues and actual outcomes and comparisons between the original macroeconomic forecast and the actual outcome”.
Although South Africa had a score of 100 out of 100 in terms of budget oversight, IBP recommended that the country ensure the executive’s budget proposal is provided to legislators at least two months before the start of the budget year.
The OBI is the world’s only independent, comparative measure of central government budget transparency. The index assigns countries covered by the Open Budget Survey a transparency score on a 100-point scale.
The OBI 2017 showed a modest decline in average global budget transparency scores, from 45 in 2015 to 43 in 2017 for the 102 countries that were surveyed in both rounds.
Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa