What People Are Saying About the Open Budget Survey 2012

“Transparency is one of our most powerful weapons against corruption, waste and bad governance, providing the basis on which people can hold their politicians to account and demand change where change is needed. The International Budget Partnership, through the Open Budget Survey, highlights some good examples of progress that show what can be done, but it also demonstrates how poorly many governments perform on budget transparency. The poor state of affairs highlighted by this survey is hugely concerning. The UK will use its presidency of the G8 this year to fight for more transparency across the world. The UK Department for International Development is leading by example, using new tools and new technology to make our aid data available to all, and we were named by Publish What You Fund as the world’s most transparent aid organization last year”

-Justine Greening, U.K. International Development Secretary

“The findings of the 2012 OBS are disturbing. They demonstrate the failure of many governments to respect their obligations of transparency and accountability to their own people. I don’t understand why these governments treat their citizens, at best, as children and at worst as a hostile constituency to keep in the dark.”

-Dr. Mo Ibrahim, Chair, Mo Ibrahim Foundation

“Transparency is a vaccine against corruption, helping to ensure that public resources are used to tackle poverty and preventable disease rather than being siphoned off to line the pockets of the rich and powerful. Open and transparent budgets, with opportunities for people to participate, are essential if people are to be able to hold their governments to account for the use of their resources.

Through its first-rate analysis of the state of open budgeting across the world, the International Budget Partnership has helped to put open budgeting on the agenda. The results of the 2012 Survey cover 100 countries and paint a picture of governments – especially among oil and gas producers in Africa and the middle-east – failing to provide basic information about budgets. There are however signs of progress. Overall there is a positive trend, with a number of countries including Liberia, Mozambique and Burkina Faso making good progress with opening their budgets. It’s quick, it’s easy and it doesn’t cost much!

Over the course of 2013 and beyond, ONE will be working closely with the International Budget Partnership and others, including local partners in Africa. We’ll be pushing leaders at the G8, the G20 and through the Open Government Partnership to make budgets public. As the International Budget Partnership puts it: Open Budgets. Transform Lives.”

Jamie Drummond, Co-Founder and Executive Director, ONE International

“The budget law is perhaps the most important piece of legislation that parliaments need to vet thoroughly, as it sets the stage for a myriad of other policy decisions across the board.  Yet there are huge variations in the way parliaments are involved in the budget process: in many countries, modest capacities and limited powers of the legislative branch come in the way of making sure that public funds are appropriately allocated, and that a full accounting is performed afterwards.  In order to address this evident gap in parliamentary oversight of the budgetary process, the joint efforts of a variety of actors will be required.  The IBP is one such actor.  Its survey series on budget transparency and accountability, of which this is another exciting installment, is an important resource to anyone wanting to understand this problem and look for clear and practical solutions.  At the Inter-Parliamentary Union, we have valued and utilized this information, particularly as part of efforts to assist parliaments in aid recipient countries to bring more aid on budget in order to ensure accountability and better results.  The survey’s country data is invaluable to help tailor parliamentary assistance programmes to those most in need or to those facing particular challenges.  There is a compelling story here that needs to be heard, one that will hopefully help propel much needed reforms forward.”

Ambassador Anda Filip, Inter-Parliamentary Union

“Open Budget Initiative (OBI) is good for enhancing transparency in the budget making process and helps reduce leakages in the program implementation. It also improves people’s participation in budget making process and strengthens their confidence in the budget. Finally, it provides incentive for the policy makers to become more democratic and inclusive.”

Dr. Atiur Rahman, Governor, Bangladesh Bank

“Central to improving transparency of government operations is the ability of citizens to ‘follow the money’ of their government.

Central to improving the accountability of government is ability of citizens to scrutinize that information and to participate actively in both budget formulation and in oversight of government income and expenditures.

In providing the only comprehensive survey of both these critical issues of transparency and participation, the Open Budget Survey is at the forefront of the international push for greater accountability in government expenditure. It is a powerful indicator of which countries are genuinely committed to open and accountable public finances, and which have yet to translate their rhetoric into action.”

Dr. Gavin Hayman, Director of Campaigns, Global Witness

“Many governments [in East Africa] regularly claim to be transparent about their budgets, but it is often difficult to assess how well they are doing in practice. The OBI provides an independent measure of progress to governments and citizens alike to see how they fare against both standards and other countries. Its rankings, comparisons, and independent analysis can be a powerful trigger for public debate and improvement.”

Rakesh Rajani, Head, Twaweza

“In the flurry of forums and discussions about what global development framework will succeed the Millennium Development Goals, the need for greater accountability and democratic governance  has been repeatedly signalled as a clear priority. Without increased budget transparency accountability and democratic governance will remain hollow.  Budget transparency is essential to ensuring the equitable and efficient use of resources needed to progressively realize health, education and other human rights central to development. It is also an entitlement of citizenship which allows people to participate in the expenditure decisions that affect their lives and well-being. The Open Budget Survey is a critical tool in measuring progress around the globe in the regard.”

Alicia Yamin, Lecturer, Harvard School of Public Health

“If we want effective, competent, and accountable governments, we need to start by ensuring that sunlight shines on the most fundamental of government processes – budgeting. This survey is key to understanding what information is needed and where it is and is not available. With its rigorous evaluations, and clear language, the survey is more than an invaluable research tool. In showing how easily countries can improve their budget transparency practices, the survey deprives recalcitrant governments of any excuse for inaction.”

Ann Florini, Professor of Public Policy, School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University and Non-resident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution

“Greenpeace was founded on a prophecy from Canada’s First Nation peoples: ‘There will come a time when the Earth grows sick and when it does a tribe will gather from all the cultures of the world who believe in deeds and not words. They will work to heal it and they will be known as the “Warriors of the Rainbow.”’

This could just as well be applied to the work of the International Budget Partnership since it seeks to address one of the scourges facing humanity — corruption.  Budget transparency is critical for good governance and participatory democracy, addressing development, and moving us in the direction of corruption-free societies.

Sadly, the lack of transparency in the most important decision any government makes — determining their budget priorities — is a key gap in moving us to more just societies.  Budgets, whether at the local or national government level can tell us how much governments value education, health, women’s rights, youth development.  The failure to be transparent about how governments arrive at budget priorities is a fatal missing link in our efforts to seek good governance. This is of critical importance as we face the collective challenge of averting catastrophic climate change and finding development paths that deliver a decent livelihood for all while respecting ecological limits.

Greenpeace’s vision of a sustainable society demands that power is exercised fairly and that those in power are held accountable for their actions. Our experience has shown that corruption not only drives climate change but also undermines economic and social development. It does this by privileging those with power and money over citizens and allowing them to profit at the expense not only of the rest of us — but of the planet itself.

Existing forms of corruption that can have a negative impact on efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change are not difficult to find, but all such forms need to be duly considered in the development of climate policy that will have meaningful effect on the ground

The Open Budget Survey 2010 by the International Budget Initiative comes at an important time. As an organization that was formed by a powerful idea of Quakerism, “bearing witness” to injustice, Greenpeace supports transparency as key value in promoting vibrant democracies and healthy societies.  Encouraging our governments to be transparent about budget making processes is not a nice thing to do, but a critical thing to do — if we are serious about meaningful democracy and if we are seriously committed to eradicating dehumanising poverty from the face of our planet.”

Kumi Naidoo, International Executive Director, Greenpeace International