Marrakesh — The participatory budgeting, a mechanism through which citizens can be included in the definition of public finances, is an effective tool of participatory democracy and local governance, said, on Tuesday in Marrakesh, participants in a seminar on the theme "Participatory Budgeting: Progress and Challenges for Transition to Sustainable Cities and Territories", organized as part of the 8th Africities Summit.
During this meeting, the participants representing Morocco, Senegal, Madagascar and Tunisia, presented the experience of their respective countries in this area while highlighting the scope and the limits of the participatory budgeting as a governance mode for local affairs.
Originated in Brazil, the participatory budgeting approach has largely developed in recent years in Africa, where today there are over 700 cases in 28 countries of the continent, while in 2004 there were only three in three African countries, and in 2009 the communes that adopted this approach exceeded fifty, they said.
This approach makes it possible to give a chance to local and association stakeholders as well as to ordinary citizens so that they can share their needs and expectations during the budget preparation, they explained, noting that this approach is one of the best ways to involve them in the management of local affairs.
Among the benefits of adopting participatory budgeting, the participants cited transparency and equity in investments, as well as a good prioritization of development projects and their appropriation by the population in the best way.
Presenting the experience of the Darou Mousty commune in Senegal, its mayor Madiop Biteye said that the implementation of the participatory budgeting took place in a context marked by the scarcity of resources and the population's demand for transparent and democratic management.
This approach made it possible to involve the population in the process of identifying and planning development projects, rationalizing resources and sharing with citizens the difficulties of managing local affairs, he said, stressing in this respect the importance of making participatory budgeting a reality and a mode of budgeting, managing and monitoring local public policies.
For his part, Jean Christian, mayor of a small rural commune in Madagascar, said that his commune adopted the participatory budgeting in 2014 and that this first experience was a key to a better mobilization of local resources and partners, mainly in the private sector.
This mechanism deserves to be supported in all Africa because it contributes to the capacity building of elected members representatives at the local level, he said, calling in this respect for the creation of an African communes network that had adopted this mode of governance so that everyone could learn from each other's experience in this area.
The experience of Tunisia was also highlighted during this meeting by Imane El Fehri, advisor at the commune of La Marsa who has been applying the participatory budgeting since 2014. She noted in this regard that the Tunisian constitution allows local communities to adopt mechanisms of participatory democracy and the principles of open governance in order to ensure greater participation of citizens and civil society in the elaboration of development projects.
El Fehri noted that the budget of the Al Marsa commune used to be entirely managed by local authorities, but with the adoption of the participatory budgeting, 10% of the budget is now managed by the citizens themselves, adding that this approach has helped to build trust between citizens and the administration.
For his part, the Mayor of Chefchaoune Mohamed Sefiani presented his city's experience in this area, noting that the experience is the first of its kind in Morocco and that it has yielded good results since 2015.
Sefiani stressed the benefits of this democratic mode of governance, namely accountability and full transparency, expressing confidence that this approach deserves to be sustained as a "school for participatory democracy ".