Budget transparency: SL third biggest fall in international survey


The latest survey report released earlier this year by the International Budget Partnership (IBP) which measures the state of budget transparency, participation, and oversight in 100 countries around the world, shows that Sri Lanka is among countries where budget transparency has declined considerably since 2008, registering the third biggest fall in its score in 2012.

"While some countries registered dramatic gains in budget transparency in recent years, other countries registered dramatic declines. From 2010 to 2012, for instance, Open Budget Index (OBI) scores fell by 15 points or more in Egypt, Serbia, Sri Lanka, and Zambia," the 2012 survey report of the IBP said.

From 2008-2012 Sri Lanka is among the worst performers in terms of declining OBI scores; other economies being Egypt, Macedonia, Niger and Romania.

Sri Lanka’s score fell from 67 in 2008 to 46 in 2012 because Sri Lanka was ‘no longer producing pre-budget statements, which were previously produced, which were now published late in in-year reports.

The country’s OBI score improved significantly from 47 in 2006 to 64 in 2008. Then score improved further to 67 in 2010 but fell to 46 in 2012.

Sri Lanka’s was the third highest fall, down 21 points, behind Zambia (down 32 points) and Egypt (down 36 points).

Sri Lanka was ranked ‘moderate’ where the legislature had adequate powers or capacity to perform its oversight rule with a score of 47

It was also ranked as ‘moderate’ in the area of budgetary audit with a score of 50.

In terms of public engagement, Sri Lanka has a very low score of 8 in the 2012 OBI.

"Countries in the middle category of the OBI should resolve to provide significant budget information as measured by moving their OBI scores above 60, which can be done by improving the comprehensiveness of existing budget documents. They also should promote more citizen engagement in budget processes and ensure that legislatures and audit have the necessary resources to carry out their oversight function effectively," the IBP said.

"Findings from the Open Budget Survey 2012 provide a grim picture of budget transparency, participation, and accountability. The majority of countries surveyed provide insufficient budget information and few opportunities for public engagement with the budget. Their oversight institutions are somewhat stronger but fall short in important areas.

"Although gradual progress is being achieved, the pace of this progress is so slow that the IBP estimates that unless things change it will take at least a generation for the vast majority of countries in the world to attain significant levels of budget transparency. This could mean a generation of wasted opportunities and wasted resources. This grim picture contrasts sharply with the growing body of evidence of the positive benefits of fiscal transparency, including new research showing that transparent budget systems can lead to cheaper international credit and, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), are critical to a country’s fiscal credibility and performance. There is also substantial new case study evidence showing that in countries around the world budget transparency coupled with opportunities for public participation have enabled effective civil society budget monitoring that exposes corruption and better matches national resources with national priorities."

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