The Open Budget Index (OBI) is the world’s only independent, comparative measure of central government budget transparency. The OBI assigns countries covered by the Open Budget Survey a transparency score on a 100-point scale. The survey focuses specifically on whether the government provides the public with timely access to comprehensive information in accordance with international good practice standards.
According to the findings of the latest survey (2015), the most transparent countries, in order of ranking, are New Zealand, Sweden, South Africa, Norway and the United States. These countries make extensive information publicly available as required by generally accepted good public financial management practices. They all scored above 80 out of a possible 100 points. In South Africa’s case, this exceptionally high ranking is clearly directly related to the excellent work done by National Treasury.
South Africa’s ranking of 3rd in the world has to be loudly applauded, despite the fact that the ranking has slipped from 2nd in 2008, 1st in 2010 and 2nd in 2012. Restricting access to information hinders the ability of the public, economists, journalists, commentators, academics, and civil society organisations to hold officials accountable and creates opportunities for governments to hide unpopular, wasteful, and corrupt spending. Lack of information also hinders the ability of other government bodies, such as legislatures and national audit offices, to do their jobs effectively. Evidence shows that when citizens have access to information and opportunities to participate in the budget process they are able to improve the decisions made about what to spend public money on and the quality of how the money is actually spent. That means that the allocation of scarce public resources is more equitable and effective.
South Africa’s National Treasury stands-out as one of South Africa’s key success stories, delivering a high level of transparency, consistency, insight, strategic thinking and all-round excellence over many years.
Please follow our regular economic updates on twitter @lingskevin
Download the presentation slides