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Workshop Report on “The implementation of budget transparency, accountability and people’s participation in managing the state budget” survey in Quang Tri province.

hhhhOn December 12th of 2015, in the framework of the project “Enhancing transparency and people’s participation in managing the state budget”, the workshop Report on “The implementation of budget transparency, accountability and people’s participation in managing the state budget” survey was held in the Women Union office in Quang Tri with the support of Centre for Development and Integration (CDI). Representatives of Project Management Committee under the People's Council and Provincial Women Union, delegates from 2 departments of Hai Lang and Gio Linh districts with 6 towns and villages and project consultants attended the workshop.

In the workshop, delegates all discussed the survey results and also contributed several ideas. The report summarized both well-done and limited sides of implementing budget transparency management in the province based on the provisions of Vietnamese law and good international practices.

The survey was implemented in June of 2015 in 6 villages in the project’s area of Hai Lang and Gio Linh districts . The result was the important documentary input to design further activities for the Project. Moreover, this was the main base to track and assess the effectiveness of all activities throughout the Project.

 

Participation of youth in the event “Budget transparency in youth’s view”

anh1On 12 Dec 2015, at the Youth Cultural House,1B Tang Bat Ho, the event “Budget Transparency in youth’s view”, a part of CSO pride 2015 was held by CDI, CECEM, ISEE and A4F. A chain of exciting activities was organizedto create a useful platform for young people to understand further about National Budget Law as well as to suggest ideas for effective actions in enforcingbudget transparency.

The opening activity was a knowledge game which attracted more than 60 young people to get involved. Besides, in the contest “Youth ideas for Budget Transparency”, young people had a chance to present their own ideas in front of the judge council who have rich experience in governance enforcement and national budget management. They are PhD. Bui Thi An – Congressman, Director of the Institute of Natural Resources, Environment and Community Development, Prof. Dang Hung Vo – Former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Mrs. Nguyen Thu Huong – Senior Program Coordinator of Oxfam and Mr. Hoang Tu Giang – Journalist from Saigon Times newspaper. The special prize was awarded to two young girls from Foreign Trade University with the idea of establishing an alternative organization for enforcing budget transparency process in national budget management.

Moreover, other young people coming to this event had a good chance to participate the workshop with judges in sharing methods of assessing information and enforcing budget transparency. From this workshop, they may have further understanding in budget transparency to build up ideas and contribute to the development of the country.

 

Budget Transparency, Accountability and Participation (BTAP) Alliance reviewed the first 6 months and set strategy for the next stage

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From 19/10/2015 to 21/10/2015, , the workshop “Review of the first 6 months and strategy building” of BTAP took place in Mai Chau, Hoa Binh with the participation of representatives from the Alliance’s members including CDI, ACDC, Oxfam and CEPEW; delegates from the People’s Committee and Farmers’ Association of Hoa Binh province and the People’s Committee of Quang Tri province. On the first day of the workshop, delegates from Hoa Binh and Quang Tri shared the results of implementing “enhancing transparency and the participation of the citizensin managing the state budget” project in the first 6 months. One of the most remarkable points of this workshop is applying evaluation form to select the mid-term public investment project in Quang Tri. Quang Tri Council of People shared “guideline of selecting mid-term public investment project in Quang Tri in the period of 2016 - 2020”. This document shows the details of criteria, selection process, mid-term public investment project evaluation and notes about applying to the reality. According to the plan, in the comingtime, Hoa Binh will take action in: (1) Consulting on allocation criteria and transparency in the implementation of vocational training programs and (2) Getting the public opinions about the budget allocation criteria of developing social investment to the villages.

 

Moreover, Hoa Binh and Quang Tri delegates gave straightforward sharings about the problems when implementing the plan such as information exchange and unification among members, the materials were not provided on time and the plan was changed frequently, which led to the passivity of time arrangement. The alliance members listened carefully and took a lesson in the upcoming time.

 

On the next two days, workshop concentrated on building an action strategy; Operation regulations and principles, operational coordination mechanism as well as the Action Plan of the Alliance for the period 2015-2016. At the end of the workshop, all the members of the alliance committed to build a strong alliance and make it a reliable channel of budget information for the citizensand community.

 

Representatives of the Embassy of Ireland visiting Thuan An Cooperative

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To assess the results of the project "Strengthening social accountability and good governance for better targeted and sustainable poverty reduction in Dak Mil district, Dak Nong province", on 15 September 2015, the representatives of Irish Embassy, leaded by Ms. Nuala O'Brien, visited the project area in Thuan An commune, Dak Mil district.

The working group visited coffee plantations of the beneficiaries of the project, the wet coffee processing plants and some households and held a discussion with members of  Thuan An Cooperative. Delegation was glad to see firsthand the fruits of that project and people have come together to strive to achieve. The majority of households after participating in a fair agricultural cooperatives Thuan An has been a positive change in the lives, livelihoods are improved by coffee price under Fair Trade standards are higher than the market price while community project area has also benefited more from the welfare fund from the sale of coffee. Cooperatives have befriended welfare fund supports road in CHC, supported housing for disadvantaged families in the commune.

In the group discussion, the delegates listened to thoughts and aspirations of the members. There are still a lot of difficulties on the uncertainty of coffee price, the products sold under the fair trade channel have not been much, however, most people are excited about the benefits of joining the Cooperative and being supported by the projects, and also want to continue receiving the support of the Project for sustainable coffee production and promoting sales coffee products. Irish Aid has approved the new project for the period 2015 - 2016, “Improvement of livelihoods of the poor and ethnic minorities in the Central Highland of Vietnam through engaging into sustainable coffee production and pro-poor market access” to continue supporting Thuan An Cooperative as well as some other coffee producer cooperatives in the Central Highlands provinces.

 

Announcement of Open Budget Index 2015 (OBI 2015)

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[September 05, 2015] The results of global survey about the Open Budget Index in 2015 (OBI2015) showed that 98 out of 102 countries have not reached the public system in the full budget. This lack of accountability system budget of many countries brings up challenges in the implementation of international commitments such as commitments on Sustainable Development Goals of the UN.

Global situation and comparisons between countries

Ninety-eight of 102 countries surveyed lack adequate systems for ensuring that public funds are used efficiently and effectively, according to the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey 2015. The report, the fifth of its kind, is the world’s only independent, comparative survey of budget transparency, citizen participation, and independent oversight institutions in the budgeting process. The 98 countries fall short on at least one of these pillars of accountability; 32 of these fall short on all three. The widespread lack of strong budget accountability systems poses a threat to the implementation of critical international agreements, such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the international agreement that is expected at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference.

“The public needs access to budget information and opportunities to participate throughout the budget process. Coupled with oversight by legislatures and audit institutions this contributes to a more accountable use of public money,” said Warren Krafchik, Executive Director of the International Budget Partnership. “A growing body of evidence indicates such budgetary checks and balances yield better outcomes for people, especially those who are poor or vulnerable.”

A mere 24 countries - less than one in four - score over 60 out of 100 on the Open Budget Index (OBI), the part of the survey that assesses transparency, and thus provide citizens with sufficient information to enable them to monitor the government’s use of public money. Alarmingly, the remaining 78 countries that provide insufficient budget information are home to 68% of the world’s population. Seventeen of these countries provide scant or no budget information to their citizens.

However, the study finds that budget transparency is generally improving - a finding consistent with previous reports. The average OBI score has increased to 45. Progress was particularly robust among some countries and regions that were previously not as transparent, including the Kyrgyz Republic (its OBI nearly tripled), Tunisia (its OBI effectively quadrupled), and Francophone West Africa.

Compounding the widespread lack of transparency that nonetheless remains is a similar lack of opportunities for public participation and oversight. With scores of 60 or less on this part of the survey, 95 of 102 countries fall short in providing opportunities for public participation. Further, the survey finds that legislative research and analytic capacity, as well as quality assurance systems in most national audit bodies, are lacking, severely compromising the ability of oversight institutions to be effective guardians of the public purse.

Results of Vietnam’s OBI survey

Open budget index of Vietnam announced for the year 2015 (OBI2015) is 18 points out of a total score of 100. This score level is almost unchanged compared with the assessment in 2012 (19 out of 100 points) and considerably lower more than the global average (45 points). This shows that the public is provided little information on the budget.

Compared with other countries in the region, the level of budget transparency of Vietnam is higher than China, Cambodia, Myanmar but lower than many other Southeast Asian countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, in particular the Philippines the highest degree of transparency significantly better (65 points).

Score ratings of the three pillars of public budgets Vietnam have remarkable changes. The involvement of the public on budget issues gains 42/100  points and in limited degree. However, in this pillar, Vietnam ranked higher than the global average of 25 points and most countries in the region such as China, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia.

About pillars budgetary surveillance of legislatures and auditors, Vietnam is considered sufficient to point 61/100 ranking points for the legislature and 75/100 ranking points for agencies accountant. However the survey questions of Vietnam shows that supervision in the budget planning process is sufficient and in the process of implementing the budget is limited. The Legislative body includes the Finance and State Budget Committee and but does not have its own budget research and analyzing department as international best practices. The Legislature did not make decisions in the use of reserve funds which is not in the budget adopted by the National Assembly.

In the eight key budget documents should be made public, in OBI2015 period, Vietnam has announced the additional Budget Documents available to Citizens and increase the complexity of the budget report for the period (quarterly report). However, the draft budget has yet to be announced. Moreover, the interim report (6 months) has not been considered Interim report according to international rules because there is no quantitative information on macroeconomic forecasts and financial forecasts for the next stage of the budget period. The state audit report is released later than international regulations (no later than 18 months after the end of financial year).

Methodology

The Open Budget Survey uses internationally accepted criteria developedby multilateral organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI). It is a fact-based research instrument that assesses what occurs in practice through readily observable phenomena. The entire research process took approximately 18 months between March 2014 and September 2015 and involved about 300 experts in 102 countries. The Survey was revised somewhat from the 2012 version to reflct emerging developments in accepted good practice and to strengthen individual questions. A full discussion of these changes can be found in a technical note on the comparability of the Open Budget Index over time (see below).

Survey responses are typically supported by citations and comments. This may include a reference to a public document, an offial statement by the government, or comments from a face-to-face interview with a government offial or other knowledgeable party.

The Survey is compiled from a questionnaire completed for each country by independent budget experts who are not associated with the national government. Each country’s questionnaire is then independently reviewed by an anonymous expert who also has no association to government. In addition, IBP invites national governments to comment on the draft results from the Survey and considers these comments before fializing the Survey results.

See the full survey report for each period between 2006 and 2015 and the reports of 102 countries: www.openbudgetsurvey.org

 
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