Windhoek — During the past two years Namibia has considerably improved its citizens' access to budget information, according to a biennial report released last Thursday.
The Open Budget Survey 2012, produced by independent experts ascertained Namibia increased its budget transparency score from 53 points out of 100 to 55 points this year.
Since the survey was compiled Namibia has also introduced a Citizen's Budget, which is a more simplified and accessible version of the national budget. This step enables ordinary citizens to have greater access to the information they need to participate in decision-making and positions them to hold government accountable for how it manages the public's money.
"Namibia is going in the right direction on the Open Budget Index and should be commended for introducing a Citizen's Budget," commented Graham Hopwood, Executive Director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), which conducted the research in Namibia. "Namibia could make further strides in budget transparency if it introduces other key elements like a pre-budget statement and mid-year review," said Hopwood.
The Open Budget Survey is the only independent, comparative, regular measure of budget transparency and accountability in the world. The report found that 77 out of the 100 countries assessed failed to meet basic standards of transparency. These 77 countries are home to half the world's population.
According to the IPPR this matters because fiscal budgets are the main tools used to determine policies for raising and spending public funds, which promote development and meet the needs of the country's population.
The institute added that the impact of open and accountable public finance on development within countries is particularly important as the international community begins to think about the next set of Millennium Development Goals.
The Open Budget Survey uses internationally recognized criteria to provide each country with a transparency score on a 10-point scale called the Open Budget Index.
The average score among the 100 countries studied is a mere 43.
High scorers for the 2012 edition include New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Sweden, France and Norway, while the worst performers include Qatar, Equitorial Guinea, Zambia, Rwanda, Senegal, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.