Open Budgets

Open Budgets: The Political Economy of Transparency, Participation, and Accountability

Sanjeev Khagram
Archon Fung
Paolo de Renzio
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 275
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  • Book Info
    Open Budgets
    Book Description:

    Deciding "who gets what, when, and how" are perhaps the most important decisions any government has to make. So it should not be surprising that around the world, government officials responsible for public budgeting are facing demands to make their patterns of spending more transparent and their processes more participatory. These demands are coming from their own citizens as well as from other government officials, economic actors, and increasingly from international sources -all of whom are looking for more open and inclusive processes for establishing how valuable public resources are spent.

    Rigorous analysis of public budget transparency and participation has been thin at best.Open Budgetsis a major step forward in our understanding of powerful changes. What are the characteristics, causes, and consequences of the shift toward greater transparency, participation, and accountability? Where is it happening, under what conditions, and what does the future hold for this trend?

    Sanjeev Khagram, Archon Fung, Paolo de Renzio, and their contributors explicate political economy factors that have brought about greater transparency and participation in budget settings across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. They dissect the strategies, policies, and institutions through which improvements can occur and produce change in policy and institutional outcomes, considering the potentially broad societal impacts over the long term.

    This international movement -aided by the Open Government Partnership recently launched by President Obama and other heads of state at the UN General Assembly -is picking up steam, as seen in the Arab Spring.Open Budgetsclarifies what these dramatic trends and patterns mean and how they are playing out worldwide.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2338-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. 1 Overview and Synthesis: The Political Economy of Fiscal Transparency, Participation, and Accountability around the World
    (pp. 1-50)

    Raising, allocating, and spending public resources are among the primary functions and policy instruments of any government. Government budgets, as well as off-budget fiscal instruments such as state-owned enterprises and sovereign wealth funds, profoundly affect economies, societies, and ecoystems. Decisionmaking around government revenues and expenditures has historically been shrouded in secrecy—the purview of heads of state, finance ministers, and central bankers, along with a few select officials in executive agencies. Often, other ministries, government branches (including parliaments), the business community, civil society organizations, and the broader citizenry have had little or no access to information on public financial management....

  4. 2 What We Know Can’t Hurt Them: Origins, Sources of Sustenance, and Survival Prospects of Budget Transparency in South Africa
    (pp. 51-75)

    A sustained and high level of budget transparency flowing not from a government’s vulnerability to public pressure but from its insulation from it seems counterintuitive. This, however, may provide an accurate picture for the country rated by the International Budget Partnership (IBP) as the most transparent in the world—South Africa.

    This chapter discusses the sources of budget transparency in South Africa, arguing that transparency has been introduced and sustained not because of the presence of overt public pressure on government officials, but because of its absence. It suggests that, while the government never faced direct pressure to provide budget...

  5. 3 Accountability from the Top Down? Brazil’s Advances in Budget Transparency despite a Lack of Popular Mobilization
    (pp. 76-104)

    The Brazilian public sector is large by international standards. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), it is the fourteenth largest in the world, bigger than developed democracies such as the United Kingdom or Spain. Tax revenues have continued to rise since financial stabilization in the mid-1990s, reaching a high point of 34.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).¹ The importance of public sector spending has only increased since democratization, first through the expansion of social programs such as health care and education and later through the extension of the government’s social assistance conditional cash program, Bolsa...

  6. 4 A Mutually Reinforcing Loop: Budget Transparency and Participation in South Korea
    (pp. 105-129)

    South Korea (hereafter simply Korea) is hailed as a rare case of achievement in both economic development and democratic transition among developing countries in the second half of the twentieth century. Korea is considered a success in terms of budget transparency as well. According to the Open Budget Index (OBI), published by the International Budget Partnership (IBP), Korea is one of the top performers in budget transparency in the Asia-Pacific region.¹

    During the authoritarian era in Korea, budget information, as well as overall government information, was not widely shared. Secrecy, rather than transparency, was often deemed necessary for efficiency. Citizen...

  7. 5 Budget Transparency and Accountability in Mexico: High Hopes, Low Performance
    (pp. 130-157)

    One would expect the emergence of democratic political competition in Mexico over the past decade to have had an immediate and irreversible impact on budget transparency and accountability.¹ Competition between different parties should lead to increased mutual oversight. In addition, the real possibility of losing political power at the next election should create strong incentives for government officials to reach out to citizens by involving and informing them better.

    Nevertheless, progress has been extremely slow, and in some areas there are even signs of reversal. Mexico’s Open Budget Index (OBI) scores are remarkably low, especially given the size of the...

  8. 6 Guatemala: Limited Advances within Advancing Limits
    (pp. 158-182)

    The Guatemalan state mobilizes few resources, spends its meager revenues poorly, and provides only limited transparency and participation in budgeting. In raising barely more than 10 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in revenues, the Guatemalan government secures only enough funding to cover basic functions, leaving the state vulnerable to crises, of which there are many of a natural, man-made, and purely political variety. The weak state administration is subsequently unable to protect itself from multiple, competing, and sometimes illicit actors who insert themselves into Guatemalan policymaking, complicating the budget process in ways that distort it from serving the public...

  9. 7 The Limits of Top-Down Reform: Budget Transparency in Tanzania
    (pp. 183-207)

    Budget transparency in Tanzania has improved greatly since the country transitioned to democracy in the early 1990s. Nevertheless, it remains a problem, especially in transforming greater openness into improved accountability. Tanzania’s efforts to improve transparency have resulted mainly from the reforms that powerful presidents sitting on top of a fairly disciplined and hegemonic party implemented in return for foreign assistance. Political competition—manifested by rifts within the ruling party—also has been a source of greater openness, but it has played a far less significant role, especially in catalyzing institutional reforms in this area. Civil society, by and large, has...

  10. 8 The Diversification of State Power: Vietnam’s Alternative Path toward Budget Transparency, Accountability, and Participation
    (pp. 208-223)

    In the past two decades Vietnam has been transitioning from a centralized, Soviet-oriented, planned economy into a decentralized, state-directed market economy with deepening ties to East Asian and North Atlantic countries. This tectonic shift has led to reconsideration, if not revision, of virtually every facet of government policy and practice, including those related to the budget. Standards and ideals of accounting practices, budget-making processes, and oversight, which most contemporary North Atlantic and Pacific societies define as ideal, have gradually been adopted in Vietnam. This process has been neither one of shock—as was encouraged by North Atlantic advisers in the...

  11. 9 Capturing Movement at the Margins: Senegal’s Efforts at Budget Transparency Reform
    (pp. 224-250)

    African countries do not score well on budget transparency, according to the Open Budget Index (OBI) ratings for 2010. Their poor performance may be attributed to a combination of factors identified in the OBI report, including a significant level of aid dependency, economic underdevelopment, and a lack of or weakness in democratic institutions. Yet even within Africa, there is wide variation in OBI scores, from top-ranking South Africa, whose score of ninety-two out of 100 surpassed that of all other countries surveyed, including long-established Western democracies, to the lowest-ranking countries of Chad, Equatorial Guinea, and São Tomé and Príncipe, which...

  12. Contributors
    (pp. 251-252)
  13. Index
    (pp. 253-264)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 265-265)