Speeches & Transcripts

Remarks by Sri Mulyani Indrawati at the Launch of the 2015 Open Budget Survey

September 11, 2015

Sri Mulyani Indrawati

2015 Open Budget Survey Launch

Washington, D.C 

 September 10, 2015

As Prepared for Delivery


Thank you Alan, Warren, and IBP colleagues.  It is a great pleasure for the World Bank Group to host the launch of the 2015 Open Budget Survey Report. We were also part of the 2012 survey launch, and then as now we see this as an excellent opportunity to reflect on progress made toward making spending decisions more transparent and understandable for citizens. We therefore want to congratulate the International Budget Partnership on this latest report that is certain to have global impact.

For us at the Bank, this is an important issue: we know that open and transparent budgeting improves development outcomes. And while transparency is key, it is about more than that. To truly make an impact, citizens and other stakeholders need to participate, their demands must be included and policymakers must become accountable to them. This is as important as oversight of budget execution by formal accountability institutions and together these criteria lead to a more efficient and effective use of public resources and build trust between citizens and their governments.

For example in South Africa effective use of budget data by civil society to initiate dialogue with the government has led to increased budget allocation for child support grants. 

In India and Uganda, access to budget data triggered expenditure tracking which identified leakages and bottlenecks, and helped improve the use of development resources in rural communities. 

There is also emerging evidence linking open budgets to improved service delivery. Studies in Brazil, Mexico and India all point to the fact that participatory budgeting contributed to lower infant mortality, increased basic services coverage and improved targeting of social protection programs, respectively.

While we pursue our goals of ending extreme poverty and ensuring that all citizens benefit from more prosperity, we work with our clients to enhance the transparency and predictability of their budgets, increase citizen engagement across the budget cycle, and strengthen formal oversight.

We have also supported initiatives such as BOOST, a public expenditure monitoring data base and tool, and the Open Budgets Portal, through which countries can make budget data easily accessible to the public. Seventeen countries are now using the platform, including Brazil, Kenya, Mexico, Moldova, and Tunisia. And the list is expanding.

The Open Budget Index and Survey that we are launching today is extremely helpful for all of us in the global community who are working on this agenda: from academia, to civil society, development partners, and of course governments. The Survey gives a snapshot of the extent to which countries are opening their budgets, and it tracks changes overtime starting in 2006 when the first survey was conducted.

We will hear in detail about emerging trends in a moment when Vivek presents the results: right now I would like to highlight the following:

First, the survey rankings show that open budgeting can be done regardless of the level of development. Note that of the 30 top performing countries 14 are developing countries.

Second, the report underscores an upward trend, meaning that countries’ budgets are more open than before. Moreover, there are important gains in budget transparency among the least transparent countries. In East Asia and Africa countries like the Philippines and Malawi are leading the positive trend.

In my own country Indonesia the progress has been uneven, but the overall trend and ranking has been positive: in 2006 our score was 42 points, and this year it is 59 points. As a former finance minister I can tell you that making a budget more transparent may be the right thing to do, but it comes with challenges, including pushback from elites and other groups who have no interest in accountability or exposing themselves to the scrutiny of citizens and oversight bodies.

So while it is important to celebrate the positive overall trend, the report also suggests that there is still much work to do. Seventy-eight out of the one hundred and eight countries surveyed still do not provide sufficient budget information. If opening up budgets is to have a significant impact on development, all countries must continue to move forward.  And we must help policymakers to implement the right steps.

Third, only four countries in the survey—Brazil, Norway, South Africa, and the U.S.—score well in terms of budget transparency, public participation and effective oversight. This points to more work to be done.

Finally, we need more evidence. Much more systematic documentation and analysis of its impact on sustainable development outcomes is needed to strengthen the case for transparency, participation and accountability in budgets.  The bottom line is that the Open Budget Survey lays an important foundation on which to build.

I want to thank all partners involved in this important initiative. Enjoy the sessions today.