Georgia ranked 5th among 117 countries in terms of budget transparency in the Open Budget Survey 2019, released by the International Budget Partnership, an international fiscal watchdog. The country got 81 points out of 100 in state budget transparency, losing one point compared to 2017 survey, while keeping its place in ranking.
Transparency International Georgia (TI Georgia), a local watchdog, has been conducting research for International Budget Partnership and assessing Georgia’s progress since 2012.
The survey assesses the online availability, timeliness, and comprehensiveness of eight key budget documents using 109 equally weighted indicators and scores each country on a scale of 0 to 100. Higher the score means more transparent budget. A transparency score of 61 or above indicates a country is likely publishing enough material to support informed public debate on the budget.
Noteworthy, OBS 2019 assesses only documents published and events, activities, or developments that took place through 31 December 2018.
A single-point decrease was mainly caused by the change in assessment methodology by the IBP, remarked Transparency International Georgia.
According to the report, eight key budget documents evaluated for their contents and their availability to the public in due course include pre-budget statement, budget proposal, enacted budget, citizens’ budget, in-year reports, mid-year review, year-end report, and audit report.
As stated by IBP, since 2017, Georgia increased the availability of budget information by including an executive summary in the audit report. However, the country reduced information on “actual revenues and expenditures during the prior year as part of the executive’s budget proposal, which had been in included in previous years when there were modified budgets approved by the legislature.”
As for other criteria, Georgia amassed 28 points in terms of public participation in planning the state budget (14th place in the world) and 82 points in budget oversight (11th place in the world).
Georgia’s performance in public participation in planning the state budget is “less impressive” than its budget transparency, TI Georgia noted.
IBP recommended Georgia to prioritize following actions in order to improve overall budget transparency, strengthen audit oversight and enhance public participation:
- to include additional information on fiscal risk in the budget proposal, such as transfers to public corporations, quasi-fiscal activities for public corporations, and tax expenditures for the budget year;
- to include updated revenue estimates for the current year compared to the original estimates in the mid-year review;
- to increase public engagement in the citizens’ budget and disseminate it through different channels of media to reach wider public;
- to pilot mechanisms for engaging public during budget formation and to monitor budget implementation
- to actively engage with vulnerable and underrepresented communities, directly or through CSOs;
- to ensure that audit processes are reviewed by an independent agency.