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Monday, September 14, 2015

New Zealand tops again in 102 country survey of budget transparency, Australia yet to get a look in

Dark Green excellent, Green substantial, Red and Yellow not flash or worse, Grey 'not on our radar'

New Zealand again is ranked first in the International Budget Partnership 2015 Open Budget Survey of budget transparency, public participation, and the performance of oversight agencies, the widely accepted authoritative international voice on such things.

Congratulations to all five rated in the top category-NZ,Sweden South Africa, Norway and the US.  

However budget transparency is rated Limited, Minimal, Scant or None in most countries surveyed particularly in our region.

This fifth survey covers 102 countries but continues to not include two G20 members Australia and Japan (Oops, add Canada as well).
When I raised questions about this two years ago I said Australia likely would rate reasonably well if we were assessed, although some Budget Portfolio Statements challenge this reader at least.

Elena Mondo Supervisor, Open Budget Initiative replied to my email in 2013 explaining it was mainly a matter of resources.Whatever the reason for Australia not rating a mention, nothing much appears to have changed since:
"The choice of including additional countries in the Open Budget Survey depends on a number of factors: in first place, however, we aim at having a reasonable global representation in the countries that we include, so that we have, as much as possible, good geographical representation and countries with different characteristics across the world (income level, aid dependence, oil/mineral producer, democracies vs. autocracies, etc…). We do have a fairly good representation of western/high income/OECD countries, and we receive a significant amount of requests every round: so we have to prioritize quite a lot when faced with the decision of which countries we could add into the Survey. So, unless a country is absolutely strategic to IBP and not yet included in the Survey (I cannot think of any at the moment), we do not really go in search of new groups in new countries – if anything it’s the other way round! At the beginning of each Survey research round, we receive many requests from many countries (I think I counted as many as 20 last round) , and we do not have financial or staff resources to take on many additional countries: so we have to go through a touch selection process. We do not work in Australia, and we were not in touch (from what I can remember) with groups that expressed interest to complete the Survey. But, beyond that, as explained above, we have many request and limited financial and human resources, so we would still need top prioritize quite drastically. Ideally we would like to expand in order to cover the whole world, but we are already over stretched in terms of how much we can realistically deal with, and the inclusion of any new country is weighted against those factors. We have not yet started the process to undertake the 2014 Open Budget Survey, and we will start discussions in May, most likely. We are keeping a shortlist of countries where there has been interest in participating in the research, and depending on whether we will have additional resources, we will then decide whether and which ones to add."

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