Budget advocacy evolves: New milestones show inclusive systems change is within reach

Annual Report 2023

Partners in power: Shifting impact into high gear

Partnerships are vital to our work. Through coalition-building and targeted advocacy, our growing partner network is building key relationships and notching reforms that would not have seemed possible even a few years ago. We expanded the Open Budget Survey to 125 countries in its latest round. Key diverse coalitions we worked with over the past year proved the importance of making sure budgets are credible – that they are spent as promised and revenues are raised fairly. We published research papers in 13 countries examining budget credibility and developed a How-To-Guide on monitoring budget credibility of sustainable development spending so that more civil society groups can analyze their own governments and how they are executing their budgets.

Our budget credibility analysis allowed partners to secure key wins - such as an increased release of funds for healthcare facilities in Nigeria and greater civil society access to spending data in Ghana and Senegal.

In Indonesia, Senegal, Nigeria, and South Africa, we worked closely with our partners to hold workshops to help co-create new strategies for system change and ensure crucial social services funds are equitably allocated and spent. In South Africa, for example, we and our partners held 378 trainings for 64,982 people to build an understanding of how budgets impact whether communities get reliable sanitation services. As a result, 2.6 million informal settlement residents now have better sanitation services.
127
people trained in Indonesia in community action plans to engage with their local governments
22
budget increases as a result of partners in Senegal participating in budget hearings after being trained
120
members of partner organizations in Nigeria took part in co-creating a new country strategy.
2.6
million informal settlement residents in South Africa have better sanitation services as a result of new skills

Building a broader band of reform champions

We provided tailored support to civil society groups in 31 countries, including through new regional engagements in the Western Balkans and the Middle East. We will co-create strategies with our partners in all these countries, provide targeted capacity support and more regularly accompany our partners to lead these strategies for change.

Program strategy for the Western Balkans and Middle East and North Africa

Betting on winning coalitions to sustain reforms

We leveraged key forums, like the World Bank/International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s Annual Meetings in Marrakech to draw attention to the critical role that civil society can play in ensuring that public funds are raised and spent for the benefit of everyone. In many instances, we were the only civil society organization in the room. We convened a panel discussion to draw attention to our emerging work on debt transparency and accountability, and the need for greater domestic engagement around debt. We also convened a high-level dialogue on how the Middle East region is faring in terms of budget transparency and accountability and featured reformers and champions across the region who shared lessons from their countries.

We raised attention to the urgent need for greater domestic engagement around debt to break the debt cycle déjà vu and showcased government reformers who are advancing more transparent and accountable budget practices in the Middle East.

Annual Meeting Events
600+

participants for our Middle East and Debt events
30,000

social media impressions
1,200

Social media engagments

Tackling Tax Equity in Nigeria and Senegal

In Senegal, we set up the first multi-stakeholder platform for tax equity with our partner, Legs Africa, which includes tax experts, civil society groups, women’s groups, and others. Legs Africa presented a study to the Minister of Finance and Budget that they published on how aggressive tax avoidance robs the state coffers of revenue for social spending to inform future tax reforms.

In Nigeria, we brought together partners already organizing around tax equity with new actors like media partners and women tax professionals. They are now jointly advocating to make Nigeria’s tax system more equitable.

Women who work in market stalls in Nigeria are often subject to multiple taxation, forced to make payments to different government agencies. We worked with the Association of Nigerian Women Business Network to help train 400 women on their tax rights and obligations and how to engage the authorities. The resulting advocacy led to these women having their taxes slashed by 50 percent.

We worked with the Association of Nigerian Women Business Network to help train 400 women on their tax rights and obligations and how to engage the authorities. The resulting advocacy led to these women having their taxes slashed by 50 percent.

Eyes on governments: Spend what you promise in financing for development

We leveraged the United Nations’ Financing for Development forum to shine a light on the need to ensure that governments spend what they promise in their budgets, particularly on social sectors that are critical to fueling the development progress. Teaming up with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) we hosted a panel discussion to raise the importance of the issue. We published a piece in the New York Times raising attention to how governments deviate from their budgets and how social spending is often given short shrift in favor of other priorities. And we showed how important it is for climate financing to include guardrails and inclusive practices so that communities most impacted by climate change are involved in ensuring resources get to them and meet their needs.

Our executive director took part in a World Bank panel on climate financing. She urged expansion of public roles in ensuring climate funds are informed by the people it most affects - and spent as promised.

In South Africa, Nigeria and Senegal, reform coalitions were built and strengthened to monitor public services like sanitation and healthcare, improve earmarked funding for health care and engage the media in reform efforts.

From advocacy to action: Spurring government reforms

100/125
ministries of finance completed survey reviews
80%
of assessed governments participated, the highest number to date
Most governments ever embrace Open Budget Survey We expanded the Open Budget Survey to 125 countries in its latest round and continued to leverage the Survey as a globally recognized benchmark to encourage more governments to make their budgetary practices more inclusive and accountable. We also implemented a pilot Supreme Audit Institution review which evaluated the Survey’s draft indicators on the roles and responsibilities of the SAI and the public’s ability to access the annual audit report and engage with their work.

Through our collective efforts with partners, we have identified areas where there is political will, and applied both domestic pressure from civil society and leveraged global actors to incentivize and support reform.

Decision makers respond to community needs

Through our country work, we furthered support for our reform coalitions to work with governments to find solutions to community priorities and ensure that management of public resources responds to community needs.
146%
Significant increases in budget allocations for the agricultural sector: 22% in Anambra, 146% in Nasarawa, 18% in Oyo
250
250 additional fuel stations to make it easier for fisherfolk in Indonesia to access the subsidized fuel
1,769
1,769 instances of service delivery improvements in water, sanitation, and waste removal in South Africa
Motorbike taxis are now fully licensed and registered with the municipality and documented officially as taxpayers

Montenegro

Governments in developing countries don’t usually see transparency as working to their benefit, whereas I believe it’s a complete positive,” said Bojan Paunovic, Director General at the Ministry of Finance of Montenegro.

Following four changes of government in as many years, we included Montenegro in 2023’s Open Budget Survey. Montenegro’s Ministry of Finance is convinced that improving transparency will make the country stronger – and help it earn entree into the European Union. The government has already introduced program-based budgeting and in the next budget cycle plans to further improve transparency so that budget information can be presented to the people in a more comprehensible way.