By Nematullah Bizhan (Australian National University).
This case study discusses major improvements in government budget transparency and public engagement in Afghanistan, presenting an analysis of the roles of the following actors in the trend toward more open budgeting: 1) the International Budget Partnership, foreign donors, civil society organizations, and the media; 2) the government; and 3) the legislature. This paper argues that by increasing its OBI score from 8 in 2008 to 21 in 2010, Afghanistan has made important progress, though it still remains below average. But donors, CSOs, and to some extent the media are putting increasing pressure on the government to improve its Public Financial Management system. A pragmatic and holistic approach that includes a legal and institutional framework will be required for budget transparency to become an instrument for confidence building in the Afghan state.