Namibia can improve on open budget rankings – IPPR
Namibia can make strides in budget transparency by improving the timing of audit reporting and making sure the Accountability Report is published within 12 months of the year under consideration, Graham Hopwood, IPPR Executive Director said this week.
Hopwood echoed this at a launch on Wednesday of the Open Budget Survey (OBS) – Namibia results, where it was revealed Namibia dropped in the global rankings on budget transparency and accountability published by the International Budget Partnership.
The OBS is the world’s only comparative, independent and regular assessment of transparency, oversight, and public participation in public budgets in 120 countries.
Namibia’s transparency score decreased from 51 in 2019 to 42 in 2021. A score of 61 is considered the minimum threshold to foster an informed public debate on budgets Hopwood said, adding that the global average transparency score in the OBS 2021 was 45.
“The dip in Namibia’s transparency score comes mainly because the government did not publish its Accountability Report on time in 2020, while the Auditor General’s report on government finances was published so late it could not be considered. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was a mitigating factor in the late publication of the Accountability Report. Most countries were able to maintain, and in some cases build on earlier gains in accountable spending practices despite the pandemic – thanks to increased digitalisation of information and the institutionalisation of accountability practices,” the institute added.
Meanwhile, according to the institute, Namibia continued to perform poorly on the public participation part of the survey registering a 0 score, as there were no formal opportunities for meaningful public participation afforded by the government, parliament or the Auditor-General’s office.
According to Hopwood setting up formal opportunities for different sectors of society to give their input and comments during the budget cycle could have also ensured Namibia’s public participation score is boosted.
Furthermore, Hopwood said Namibia could also improve its ranking by submitting its budget proposal to parliament at least two months before the start of the budget year and allowing a Standing Committee to scrutinise the proposal.