Countries working on their new OGP Action Plans should incorporate more steps to increase budget and fiscal transparency. They should also create more opportunities for public participation in the design and implementation of fiscal policies in the whole budget cycle, as well as in the delivery of public services and the construction of public investment projects. So says Murray Petrie, Lead Technical Advisor to the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT), in a recent blog post.
According to the author, currently 51 OGP member countries are preparing their next National Action Plans; they should take this opportunity to include commitments on budget and fiscal transparency. He emphasises that the latter is one of the four requirements for membership of the OGP.
The outcomes of the Open Budget Survey 2015 show that the vast majority of the one hundred countries surveyed falls short across one or more of the three key pillars of the survey: budget transparency, public participation, and formal oversight. Almost one third of the countries even disappoints in all three of them.
Even though OGP members perform better than the average, the average score and pace of improvement are low: 29 of the 47 OGP countries provide insufficient budget information to the public, and the progress of the OGP countries is even lower than average. Notable exceptions with this regard in Europe are Georgia, Tunisia, Bulgaria, Albania and Croatia.
According to Petrie, fiscal transparency commitments already made up around one third of all the commitments in the first 51 Action Plans. For the new plans he recommends putting into effect the GIFT Principles of Public Participation in Fiscal Policy as well as following much more closely the OGP requirements for public participation. Furthermore, Petrie notes that many of the rapid gains came from publication of documents that governments were already producing for their internal use and for donors, but not making publicly available before.