WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The International Budget Partnership today released the Open Budget Survey 2010, the only independent, comparative, regular measure of budget transparency and accountability around the world. Produced every two years by independent experts not beholden to national governments, the report reveals that 74 of the 94 countries assessed fail to meet basic standards of transparency and accountability with national budgets. This opens the door to abuse and inappropriate and inefficient use of public money.
"Greater transparency enables better oversight, better access to credit, better policy choices, and better service delivery," said Warren Krafchik, director of the International Budget Partnership. Krafchik cited Nigeria as an example of how a lack of budget transparency allows corruption and mismanagement to go unchecked. He noted Mexico as a case in which access to budget information ensured that poor farmers received subsidies intended for them that previously were diverted to wealthy farmers.
Based on documented evidence, the Open Budget Survey finds that just seven of 94 countries assessed release extensive budget information, and 40 countries release no meaningful budget information. Without this information, it is difficult for the public and oversight institutions to hold government accountable or to have meaningful input into decisions about how to use public resources. South Africa, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France, Norway, Sweden, and the United States score in the top tier of transparency, while the worst performers include China, Saudi Arabia, Equatorial Guinea, Senegal, and newly democratic Iraq, which provide little to no information to their citizens.
Despite the general lack of budget transparency around the world, the Open Budget Survey 2010 revealed a nine-point average improvement among the 40 countries that have been measured over three consecutive Open Budget Surveys. Dramatic improvements came from previously low-scoring countries, such as Mongolia and Liberia, which still do not meet best practices but have improved significantly over time.
"The good news is that all governments -- no matter their income levels or political systems or dependence on aid -- can improve transparency and accountability quickly and with very little additional cost or effort by publishing online all of the budget information they already produce and by inviting public participation in the budget process," said Krafchik.
For more information, visit http://www.openbudgetindex.org.
SOURCE International Budget Partnership