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Nam budget transparency ranking drops

2022-06-03  Staff Reporter

Nam budget transparency ranking drops

Namibia dropped in the global rankings on budget transparency and accountability of the Open Budget Survey (OBS) published by the International Budget Partnership. The OBS is a comparative, independent and regular assessment of transparency, oversight, and public participation in public budgets in 120 countries. 

Namibia’s transparency score decreased from 51 in 2019 to 42 in 2021, well below the score of 61 which is considered the minimum threshold to foster an informed public debate on budgets. The global average transparency score in the OBS 2021 was 45. 

“Namibia published six of the eight required public documents within the timeframe set by the survey. The dip in Namibia’s transparency score comes mainly because government did not publish its accountability report on time in 2020 while the auditor general’s report on government finances was published so late it could not be considered. The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 was a mitigating factor in the late publication of the Accountability Report,” reads a statement from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) which conducted the research for Namibia. 

The IPPR further noted that the drop in score in Namibia comes against a backdrop of progress in other parts of the world. “Most countries were able to maintain, and in some cases build on earlier gains in accountable spending practices despite the pandemic - thanks to increased digitalisation of information and the institutionalisation of accountability practices,” the statement read.   

“Namibia’s score on the budget oversight element of the survey increased from 46 in 2019 to 48 in 2021. Namibia’s parliament and the office of the auditor general are considered to provide limited oversight during the budget process.” 

The survey further noted that Namibia continued to perform poorly on the public participation, registering a zero score, citing no formal opportunities for meaningful public participation afforded by the government, parliament or the auditor general’s office. 

“The Ministry of Finance did hold budget consultations with civil society and other sectors in 2021 but unfortunately, this was outside the time period for the Open Budget Survey, which had a cut-off date of December 2020. As a result, the public participation score should increase in future surveys,” the IPPR stated. 

“Namibia could make strides in budget transparency by improving the timing of audit reporting and making sure the accountability report is published within 12 months of the year under consideration,” said Graham Hopwood, the IPPR executive director. 

“Setting up formal opportunities for different sectors of society to give their input and comments during the budget cycle would also ensure Namibia’s public participation score is boosted,” Hopwood said. 

He added that Namibia could also improve its ranking by submitting its budget proposal to parliament at least two months before the start of the budget year and allowing a standing committee to scrutinise the proposal. 

The OBS aims to help local civil society assess and confer with governments on the reporting and use of public funds. This is the 8th edition of the OBS.

The OBS 2021 found that most countries preserved accountable spending practices in their annual budget processes during the pandemic. The top scorers for transparency were: Georgia, South Africa, Sweden, New Zealand and Mexico. Top scorers for budget oversight were: Germany, Norway, South Korea, France and Sweden and the top scorers for public participation were: South Korea, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Georgia, and Ukraine. 

Photo: OBS

Caption: Dropped in rankings…Namibia has a transparency score of 42 out of 100 and is now ranked 72 out of 120 countries. Source: Open Budget Survey

2022-06-03  Staff Reporter

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