Budget transparency strengthens a government’s accountability to its constituents. The public has a right to be informed about how taxes are allocated and spent, as such decisions directly impact a country’s political and economic development.
The International Budget Partnership (IBP) ranks countries based on the level of budget transparency and public participation in the budget-making process. IBP’s recently-released 2012 Open Budget Survey found that only 23 of the 100 countries surveyed provide sufficient budgetary information to the public. To improve transparency, IBP stresses the need for mechanisms that allow civil society to participate in and monitor the budget-making process to hold government officials accountable for use of public funds.
According to IBP’s report, Kyrgyzstan scored in the bottom percentile (20 out of 100), receiving the same score as Zimbabwe. In fall 2012, the Kyrgyz Parliament held hearings and debates on the 2013 budget. Pressing issues for the population, such as poor infrastructure and waste management, were among the topics discussed. CIPE’s partner, the Development Policy Institute (DPI), noted that parliamentary hearings were not widely covered in the media and the public remained largely unaware of the decisions being made. To address this, DPI used CIPE/NED support to organize two press conferences with 24 Kyrgyz journalists on the 2013 budget.
Civil society and government experts, such as the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Civil Society within the Ministry of Finance and a representative from the Ministry of Finance, presented at DPI’s press conferences on the budget. Kyrgyz journalists received first-hand information and analysis on the budgetary debates and decisions taking place in Parliament. Following the press conferences, the Ministry of Finance held a meeting dedicated to discussing the issues raised by the journalists.
Through its press conferences, DPI connects media, economic, financial and business experts to increase the public’s access to quality reporting on important issues. To date, journalists have published more than 20 articles on the 2013 budget in prominent Kyrgyz news outlets, such as 24.kg and akipress.com. The articles equip readers with information that can strengthen their position to petition the government for greater transparency and hold it accountable for its promises.