Open data has an important role to play in bolstering the relationship between citizens and governments. Opening up data—in particular, public finance data such as those relating to budgets, public revenues, expenditures and debt —can have tremendous effect in improving service delivery, creating more transparent and accountable governments, and fostering economic growth.
The concept of fiscal openness was built into the Mongolian laws and regulations through specific provisions for budget transparency and citizen engagement in budget, audit, and legislative processes. Concerted efforts, mostly led by the Ministry of Finance (MoF), helped bring the hefty transparency agenda down to people’s daily lives. This was done by providing timely access to comprehensive fiscal and financial data through different channels and formats.
These efforts have started showing concrete results as confirmed by the latest Open Budget Survey (OBS), the world’s only independent and comparative measure of the three core components of budget accountability — transparency, participation, and oversight — at the central government level. In the last two years, Mongolia’s score in Open Budget Index (OBI), based upon credible survey data, increased by over 20% from 46 in the 2017 to 56 in 2019 (on a scale of 100) — a significant improvement that governments could not usually achieve during one OBS assessment period.
“Improving budget transparency and enhancing public participation plays a crucial role in building a strong partnership between the government and the people,” said Ch. Khurelbaatar, H. E. Minister of Finance of Mongolia. “Accordingly, the government of Mongolia has committed itself to ensure that citizens have open and convenient access to the budget information. We at the MoF are delighted with the latest progress made and would like to affirm that a continued effort will be made for further enhancement.”
This jump can be attributed in part to Mongolia’s timely online publication of the Year-End Report and the Pre-Budget Statement. The release of the enacted budget and the production of the Citizen’s Budget booklets also helped improve the score. The booklets are released at the time of the budget proposal presentation to the Parliament, and they have provided key budget data to the public in a user-friendly way since 2018.