Newsletter 45 – Jan 2020

Bridging the supply and demand for fiscal information
“Publish and they will come”, that was the initial approach to proactive fiscal transparency. However, this hypothesis does not usually stand, unless the potential users are set at the center of the publishing design process. With that in mind, we have developed a Tutorial with videos + supporting documents with tools, tips and international examples, based on the accumulated experience of the last ten years of the GIFT network champions (19 Governments + 14 CSOs + 10 international organizations), in their processes of publishing meaningful fiscal information for the public. It is currently available in Spanish with the English version coming soon!

Course the Tutorial on Udemy for free and get your certificate or watch the separate videos on Youtube and download the documents here.

What is really happening in Chile with social breakouts and why are the budget and fiscal policies at the core of the national debate?
Past October, Chile saw its customary peace altered due to social protests that erupted after a public transport fare increase. Massive demonstrations rapidly spread throughout the country. To understand what happened and map a road ahead, we need to look at the roots of public discomfort, which is strongly related to tax privileges, structural wealth imbalance, increasing inequality and lack of evident impact of public spending in the most needed sectors of the population.

To get an interesting view of the complete picture, from an engaged civil society perspective,
don’t miss our audio interview with Jeannette von Wolfersdorff, Director of the Fiscal Observatory Foundation of Chile! A GIFT Steward who has been playing an increasingly active and strategic role in the process, advocating for social justice, participation, transparency and accountability in the budget process.
The road ahead: Fiscal openness will play an important role
The Ministry of Finance of Chile (a GIFT steward) has announced the creation of the “Ministerial Advisory Commission for Transparency, Quality and the Impact of Public Expenditure”. This Commission will aim to support and advise the Ministry of Finance through two sub-commissions: (i) Better public spending: which will review the necessary reforms to increase the efficiency and transparency of public spending, and (ii) citizen spending: it will propose tools and mechanisms that allow citizens to be involved in the budget process.

It will last a year and is integrated in equal form by 8 women and 8 men, who will work ad honorem, in a personal capacity, without compromising the institutions, bodies or entities of which they are part.

Read more about the commission.

Creating public participation opportunities in Georgia
Tbilisi, Georgia. December 2019. Europe Foundation and the Ministry of Finance of Georgia.

In the past years, Georgia has had a clear interest and mandate to improve budget transparency in the country. The country has gone from 55 points score (out of 100) in the Open Budget Survey of 2012 to 82 points in 2017. The country now ranks among only five other countries considered to provide “extensive” budget information of the 115 countries assessed. Yet, when it comes to user-centered fiscal transparency and public participation opportunities in the budget cycle, there are still challenges ahead that civil society and government would like to overcome. Read more in this blog post and do not miss the Public Participation Principles translated to Georgian by the Europe Foundation!

Financing SDGs also requires openness
Cotonou, Benin. January 2020.

Public finance tools are essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, as the role of public budgets in financing SDGs amount up to 70% in some countries. This is particular salient in the West Africa region, and governments are working towards developing and implementing methodologies that allow them to track the budget impact and contributions towards the SDGs targets. In this context, GIFT coordination team participated in a workshop organized by GIZ Benin for nine countries of the continent (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mauritania Mozambique, Namibia and Senegal). It was a good occasion to introduce examples of methodologies and trends on budgeting for SDGs, including the importance of fiscal openness in the design and implementation of such mechanisms.


People, Planet and Public Finance Podcast
Episode two: Bearing the Burden of the Climate Crisis
International Budget Partnership, January 21.

There’s been a lot of talk about the mobilization of finance at both the international and national levels to address the climate crisis, but how much are individuals and families spending to try to mitigate the impact? A new podcast from the International Budget Partnership discusses the findings of a study by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED): “Bearing the climate burden: how households in Bangladesh are spending too much.” Authors Paul Steele (IIED) and Shaikh Eskander (Kingston University London) share highlights of the disturbing findings on what poor, rural households in Bangladesh are spending to cope with climate catastrophe, how their security and future prospects are hurt, and what governments and the international community could and should do.

Listen on Soundcloud.

PEFA Supplementary Framework for Assessing Gender Responsive Public Financial Management is out!
Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA). January 23.
The PEFA program is launching a new supplementary framework for assessing gender-responsive public financial management. The supplementary framework facilitates the collection of information to assess the extent to which countries’ public financial management systems respond to differing needs of men and women, and subgroups within these categories. The framework has been tested in seven countries and is planned to be conducted on a voluntary basis as part of a regular PEFA assessment.