South Africa ranks second out of 100 countries for the transparency and accountability of its budget processes, according to the latest Open Budget Index Survey by the Washington-based International Budget Partnership.
South Africa scored 90 points out of a possible 100 points in the Open Budget Index report of 2012, standing out as one of only six countries worldwide that releases extensive budget information to the legislature and the public in general.
The African democracy institute, Idasa, works in partnership with the International Budget Partnership on the Open Budget Index. Produced by independent experts, it is the only independent, comparative and regular measure of budget transparency and accountability in the world.
The National Treasury said on Monday that it strived to constantly improve public finance management processes to ensure that there was a clear understanding of how public funds were used.
“The Open Budget Index Survey is a welcome review of our budgeting processes. This respected international assessment encourages South Africans – parliamentarians, the media, civil society and the general public – to use the information published in the budget documents more often and more effectively,” the Treasury said in a statement.
The survey, which was started in 2006, is conducted every two years to measure how well governments around the world ensure that budget information is publicly available, thereby encouraging citizen participation in the national budget process.
In 2012, South Africa came second, with New Zealand taking the top spot in the index that analysed 100 countries worldwide. The United Kingdom came third, Sweden fourth and Norway fifth.
“South Africa continues to do well because of the strong foundation provided by the National Treasury, the government’s determination to continue with their budget reform programmes, and a realisation that open budgets are a necessary condition for our vibrant democracy,” said Russell Wildeman, the lead researcher on the project at Idasa.