[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).
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