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Report offers advice

Ropate Valemei
Saturday, February 02, 2013

THE Global Open Budget Survey 2012 has called for the reinstatement of a legislature with internal capacity to conduct budget analyses following its launch in Suva yesterday.

The report compiled by independent organisation, International Budget Partnership (IBP), aimed to ensure government budgets around the world were more responsive to the needs of poor and low-income people in society and to make budget systems more transparent and accountable to the public.

The international report was launched alongside the Fiji Open Budget Survey Results at the Holiday Inn in Suva by the Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific International (FSPI) and IBP.

Fiji's Open Budget Index researcher Albert Cerelala said it was imperative that government reflected on the outcome of the survey constructively and note down what it would mean for the nation.

"There are simple and cost effective steps to addressing this," he said.

Mr Cerelala said Fiji was ranked at the bottom category in transparency and accountability for its national budget — earning a transparency score of six out of 100, a mark well below the average score of 43 for all the 100 countries surveyed.

Part of a list of recommendations to improve budget oversight was a call for the formal establishment of a pre-budget policy debate prior to the tabling of the executive budget proposal.

The report found Fiji had mechanisms developed by the executives for participation during budget planning but those were weak.

"The IBP believes the public has a right to comprehensive, timely, and useful information on how governments manage public funds," the organisation said.

"Our experience shows that when ordinary people have information, skills, and opportunities to participate, broader public engagement in government budget processes can promote substantive improvements in governance and poverty."

The Survey consists of 125 questions completed by independent researchers in 100 countries with a combined population of 6.1 billion.

Bulk of the questions in the survey focused on the amount of budget information in eight key budget documents.

Despite the general lack of budget transparency around the world, the survey revealed a 10-point average improvement from 47 to 57 among the 40 countries measured over four consecutive OBS.

The Ministry of Finance has yet to make an approved comment on the outcomes of the survey.





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