Decentralized Budget Transparency?

By Carlene van de Westhuizen and Albert van Zyl, International Budget Partnership South Africa - Feb 16, 2017

In a recent paper, IBP's Paolo de Renzio and Massimo Mastruzzi of the Work Bank confirmed that there is a great demand from civil society organizations (CSOs) across the developing world for better and more organized budget data. De Renzio and Mastruzzi also concluded that ample opportunities exist for governments to publish such data and facilitate its uptake by CSOs. Some of the specific suggestions from CSOs on how governments should go about this include making more budget information available at lower levels of government, as well as at the facility level. One of the questions that the paper left us with was who in government could respond to this demand. There is a tendency to assume that budget information is centralized and can be provided by the national Ministry of Finance. Some exploratory work done by IBP South Africa suggests that sources of budget information — specifically the information needed by CSOs for analyzing budgets and monitoring implementation on the ground — can be more decentralized than one might expect. Our investigation also suggests the need for CSOs to employ more refined tactics for accessing the information that they need.

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