High-Level Principles on Fiscal Transparency, Participation and Accountability

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Access to Information

Everyone has the right to seek, receive and impart information on fiscal policies. To help guarantee this right, national legal systems should establish a clear presumption in favor of the public availability of fiscal information without discrimination. Exceptions should be limited in nature, clearly set out in the legal framework, and subject to challenge through low-cost, independent and timely review mechanisms.


Clear and Measurable Objectives

Governments should publish clear and measurable objectives for aggregate fiscal policy, regularly report progress against them, and explain deviations from plans.


Quality, Reliable Information

The public should be presented with high quality financial and non-financial information on past, present, and forecast fiscal activities, performance, fiscal risks, and public assets and liabilities. The presentation of fiscal information in budgets, fiscal reports, financial statements, and National Accounts should be an obligation of government, meet internationally-recognized standards, and should be consistent across the different types of reports or include an explanation and reconciliation of differences. Assurances are required of the integrity of fiscal data and information.


Communication of Objectives

Governments should communicate the objectives they are pursuing and the outputs they are producing with the resources entrusted to them, and endeavor to assess and disclose the anticipated and actual social, economic and environmental outcomes.


Legal Basis for Financial Transactions

All financial transactions of the public sector should have their basis in law. Laws, regulations and administrative procedures regulating public financial management should be available to the public, and their implementation should be subject to independent review.


Defined Government Sector

The Government sector should be clearly defined and identified for the purposes of reporting, transparency, and accountability, and government financial relationships with the private sector should be disclosed, conducted in an open manner, and follow clear rules and procedures.


Legislation of Fiscal Roles and Responsibilities

Roles and responsibilities for raising revenues, incurring liabilities, consuming resources, investing, and managing public resources should be clearly assigned in legislation between the three branches of government (the legislature, the executive and the judiciary), between national and each sub-national level of government, between the government sector and the rest of the public sector, and within the government sector itself.


Legislative Power of the Purse

The authority to raise taxes and incur expenditure on behalf of the public should be vested in the legislature. No government revenue should be raised or expenditure incurred or committed without the approval of the legislature through the budget or other legislation. The legislature should be provided with the authority, resources, and information required to effectively hold the executive to account for the use of public resources.


Supreme Audit Institution’s Independence

The Supreme Audit Institution should have statutory independence from the executive, and the mandate, access to information, and appropriate resources to audit and report publicly on the raising and commitment of public funds. It should operate in an independent, accountable and transparent manner.


Public Participation in Fiscal Policies

Citizens should have the right and they, and all non-state actors, should have effective opportunities to participate directly in public debate and discussion over the design and implementation of fiscal policies.

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Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency
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