Namibia’s budget transparency limited

09 Feb 2018 08:00am
WINDHOEK, 09 FEB (NAMPA) – The Open Budget Survey (OBS) for 2017 was launched in Windhoek on Thursday by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).
The survey is the world’s only independent, comparative assessment of the three pillars of public budget accountability - transparency, oversight and public participation.
It uses 109 indicators to measure budget transparency and each country receives a composite score out of 100 that determines its ranking on the Open Budget Index.
According to the survey, Namibia’s budget transparency is limited compared to that of other countries.
The country’s score of 50 is in part affected by the fact that the OBS now only recognises documents that are published online on the relevant government body’s official website as available to the public.
“Online availability is now considered basis standard of the publication of government information. As a result of this change, Namibia no longer receives credit for the Enacted Budget, which is published only in hard copy by the government,” the survey established.
It also found that Namibia is one of the countries in which public participation in the budget cycle is very poor, with the country scoring zero out of 100 in that aspect.
The legislature was also found to provide weak oversight during both the planning and implementation stages of the budget cycle.
According to the OBS, one of the main barriers to effective legislative oversight are that the executive budget proposal is not provided to legislators at least two months before the start of the budget year. Legislative committees also do not examine and publish reports on their analysis of the executive budget proposal online and the executive budget proposal is not approved by legislators before the start of the budget year.
Technical economic advisor to the Minister of Finance, Andreas Penda Ithindi, however dismissed some of the findings by the survey, referring to the mid-year budget review as one of Government’s measures to enhance greater transparency, participation and oversight.
“With regards to public consultation there are three categories of consultation on the budget,” he said.
He explained that these are the pre-budget statement public consultations in November of every year which serve as public input in the main budget formulation, consultations with industry and professional bodies and post-budget public engagements.
Ithindi also explained that most of the regional programmes are budgeted after consultations with the local and regional authorities who identify the beneficiaries, which according to him is a participatory process.
“While we will be making use of some information generated by the survey, the survey should as well generate information that satisfies the national policies and not the survey motives,” he said.