Advancing fiscal transparency and inclusive public participation in global norms and at country level

Platform for coherence of normative architecture on fiscal transparency and inclusive public participation, including revenue policies

Why is normative

work important?

Global fiscal transparency norms matter to governments. When preparing to implement reforms, governments want to be guided by proven standards of feasibility and effectiveness as well as good examples. At the same time, international institutions are constantly willing to measure performance, create comparative indicators and set new standards. As such, there are a multiplicity of norms which are sometimes conflicting.

GIFT plays a role in the convergence, evolution and harmonization of fiscal transparency and public participation global norms. It has helped to reduce divergences in international standards; and has prevented, so far, the emergence of new standards that could generate more confusion in the field. It has also helped achieve consensus and normative creation in the area of public participation in the budget cycle.  GIFT has generated principles that are today a reference for innovation in this field among countries committed to working with GIFT on public participation.



Global norms coherence and COVID-19

GIFT continues fulfilling its role in the convergence, evolution and harmonization of fiscal transparency standards and in the setting of public participation global norms. In 2020, a detailed guide to advance fiscal transparency and data openness in fiscal emergencies was developed by the Network, with inputs from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability, International Budget Partnership, Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative, civil society organizations and ministries of finance from several countries. The first version of the Fiscal Data for Emergency Response: Guide for COVID-19 was published in May 2020. After an online consultation process, the final version was published in August 2020 in English. A French version was then published in January 2021.

The Network also continues to do formative work on the revenue side of the fiscal equation, focusing on civil societies’ need for tax information, as well as on the development of general principles on tax transparency at the national level.

A series of activities have been launched forming the basis for the formulation of draft global principles on tax transparency, in collaboration with the International Budget Partnership’s Tax Equity Initiative team and the World Bank Global Tax Program. In 2020, a scoping study was conducted, reflecting the experience of multiple civil society organizations that have worked on tax issues, exploring the limitations that governments face in publishing revenue and tax information, and describing the context in which civil society advocacy work is feasible, viable and impactful from an independent civil society standpoint, with emphasis on constructive dialogue with the government. In addition, a compendium Making Tax Work: A Framework to Enhance Tax Transparency, authored by Professors Richard Murphy of the University of London and Andrew Baker of Sheffield University was drafted to provide a framework for a comprehensive discussion of tax transparency. This work is to form the basis for the formulation and discussion in 2021, of draft global principles on tax transparency, to guide governments.

Advancing Fiscal Transparency for Development Online Course

GIFT is developing an online course on fiscal transparency to enable governments and other stakeholders to better understand fiscal openness standards as well as the steps they can take to improve their practices in line with those of other governments that have achieved high levels of transparency, addressing users’ needs. The online course will be open to anyone who is interested in advancing their knowledge on fiscal transparency and in contributing to fiscal transparency efforts.

Public participation in the PEMPAL World Bank Network

GIFT’s public participation principles and practices arewere again a key reference for the World Bank’s Public Expenditure Management Peer Assisted Learning (PEMPAL) network’s work. For instance, PEMPAL’s document titled Public Participation in Fiscal Policy and the Budget Process –Establishing and/or Strengthening Mechanisms in PEMPAL Countries is based to a large extent on the GIFT community’s work. In Georgia, the Ministry of Finance (GIFT steward since 2020) introduced public engagement in the budget process, including the introduction of the Budget Transparency and Engagement System, an electronic platform that enables all interested parties to get acquainted with state budget information, key country priorities, state budget programs, and to plan their own budget. The Europe Foundation, a local CSO, became a GIFT steward in 2020 and then started a collaboration with the Ministry of Finance on public participation, while simultaneously strengthening the capabilities of other civil society organizations.

Strengthening public participation in the legislative phases of the budget process: A Toolkit for Parliamentarians in the Americas and the Caribbean- ParlAmericas

Together with the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy (Canada), GIFT was part of an effort led by ParlAmericas to develop a publication providing an overview of good parliamentary practices to promote transparency, accountability and public participation throughout the financial cycle. The Toolkit covers the parliamentary financial cycle, including the budgetary process and major fiscal policy or spending bills, such as those pertaining to infrastructure projects or tax reform, as well as long-term planning.

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Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency
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