Newsletter 47 – Mar 2020

MARCH topics
Fiscal Transparency in Times of Emergency: Covid-19
2) Kick-off meeting of the “Fiscal Openness Accelerator”
3) Budget literacy is as important as ever to enable accountability
4) Budget work impact stories
5) Useful resources for fiscal openness work in times of Covid-19



in Times of



Covid-19: The role of fiscal transparency
March 2020 has forever marked our lives. These past weeks have been among some of the most turbulent, unsettling and emotional that many of us can remember in our lifetimes. We have been very concerned about the sick and deeply saddened by those who have lost their lives. We are extremely proud of all those on the front lines of the fight, helping the sick recover and slowing the spread of the epidemic. For the rest of us, it is clear that acting together, with empathy, coordination, commitment and collaboration has never been so crucial. And from our trench, there is a lot that we can, and ought, to do.

The impact of the coronavirus outbreak has been felt by individuals and families, governments and communities, companies and institutions, around the world. For a network such as GIFT, integrated by budget authorities, civil society organizations, expert agencies and international financial institutions, the impact and the responsibility are also of great importance. In the majority of countries, the fiscal and budgetary efforts to control the epidemic and to revive development have dimensions never before seen. These are actions that are absolutely necessary and justified. But decision-making and approval need balance, plurality and open discussions, and implementation requires adequate monitoring and accountability mechanisms. These are public resources; this is people’s money. And the cost of failing is enormous: lives are at stake, poverty levels will be impacted, for better or worse, and the risks of marginalization, helplessness and social polarization, due to waste and corruption, are greater than ever.

For all of these reasons, transparency is of utmost importance in the fiscal responses to the pandemic. And public participation is indispensable for successful implementation. In the era of digitalization and open data, people confinement cannot lead to increased government opacity and unaccountable authorities. Pandemic mitigation cannot be a pretext for government opacity, impunity, shrinkage of civic space, repression, violations of human rights and authoritarianism. Institutional checks and balances, democratic mechanisms and free press, must be nurtured and strengthened by transparency and citizen empowerment.

The roles of international financial institutions, ministries of finance and civil society organizations, convinced and committed to fiscal transparency, such as the GIFT stewards, are paramount to avoid disaster. We have seen how catastrophic the results of stimulus packages and mayor financial bail outs can be in the absence of transparency and without citizen engagement. We cannot afford to mess up the management of either the fight against the pandemic or the fight against economic collapse.

Fiscal Transparency in
Times of Emergency Response:

Reflections for times of Covid-19
Dealing with the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic requires an exceptional effort from society and government, which certainly includes public finances. Such drastic financial measures pose significant transparency challenges. Gathering and publishing -quality and timely- information is essential to mitigate the risks that can complicate internal and external monitoring and can be a culprit for mismanagement, corruption, and unforeseen fiscal risks (see blog post). Transparency measures should contemplate the users’ needs of information, both internal, who will seek to use the data for decision-making, and external, who require the data to provide feedback, monitor implementation, and foster accountability.
To continue and deepen this reflection and facilitate further guidance for implementation, the GIFT Network will host a series of online events where stewards and partners will be able to share their perspectives and lessons learned about fiscal openness (transparency and engagement) in times of emergency. Together with civil society advocates, they will also be able to develop guidance for governments seeking to implement transparent emergency response measures.

Webinar on April 7
Reflections & recommendations for Fiscal Openness in times of emergency: Budget adjustments for Covid-19

Join Zoom Meeting

Organizations Working Together – April 9
Workshop (in Spanish) to co-create guidance for fiscal Open Data in emergency responses: Initial application for Covid-19
Governments + CSOs + International

By invitation, contact
[email protected]

Reflections & recommendations for Fiscal Openness in times of emergency: Macroeconomic implications for Covid-19

Webinar date to be confirmed, follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay informed
Workshop (in English) to co-create guidance for fiscal Open Data in emergency responses: Initial application for Covid-19
Governments + CSOs + International

By invitation, contact
[email protected]

Kick-off meeting of the “Fiscal Openness Accelerator”
March 2-3, 2020
Pretoria, South Africa

The kick-off meeting of the “Fiscal Openness Accelerator” project took place on March 2-3, 2020. This project is supported by the U.S. Department of State and the OGP Multi-Donor Trust Fund, for the benefit of five countries – Nigeria, Liberia, South Africa, Benin and Senegal. The main objective of the project is to strengthen the technical capacities of the 5 countries mentioned above to implement meaningful public participation mechanisms throughout the budget cycle at the national level.

We are glad to announce the signing of the Memorandums of Understanding with the participating countries. Welcome aboard!

The Pretoria meeting fulfilled its main objectives, including:

  • Formalizing the participants’ commitment to work together as a team;
  • Explaining the FOA project and the degree of engagement expected from all participants;
  • Setting the basic and common conceptual framing and key definitions for our activities;
  • Learning about existing participation practices; and
  • Clarifying the rules and expectations for the actions plans.

IBP and GIFT will provide technical assistance and support to the countries involved, to help them establish meaningful and practical public participation mechanisms.

All the workshop materials are here:

To achieve a truly informed dialogue between government and society, based on the supply of budget information, it is necessary to enable a certain level of understanding on the matter and its complexity on the part of the demand; the users of the information. Budget literacy is an effective tool not only in identifying the information needs and goals of different audiences, but as a mechanism that allows users to generate capacities and get involved (Read the blog post here).

Starting in 2019, from GIFT, as a global network, we have implemented an interaction dashboard that clearly shows the current plans of its Stewards and partners. One of the topics that we see most frequently reflected in it is budget literacy. For this reason, GIFT, with the initiative of the Office of Planning and Budget of Uruguay, took on the task of beginning a compilation of cases implemented in the last year. This month we present four cases from Latin American countries that have decided to share their progress and experiences with the community. In each of them we appreciate different approaches and target population, as well as country-specific origins: organizers from the government in some cases, civil society or collaborations between both sectors in others:

3 budget literacy tools as part of a comprehensive budget transparency strategy – Uruguay

From direct interaction with society, to a work plan to improve a portal – Dominican Republic

Costa Rica trains citizens for the first time on Open Budget – Costa Rica

Strengthening organizations and activists in budget analysis with a gender perspective – Argentina

Budget work impact stories
March 10
International Budget Partnership

Check out International Budget Partnership’s new platform for long-form stories about how budget work impacts people’s lives. You will find personal stories of challenge, change, and hope. Budget transparency, participation, and oversight can make a difference.

IMF Policy Tracker
Explore the economic measures taken by countries to address the Covid-19 pandemic. Visit the IMF new Covid-19 Policy Tracker to see the list for 192 economies.
World Bank in FMIS
Learn how countries can ensure that their public financial management systems are ready to fund Covid-19 responses.
Resolution Foundation
Safeguarding Governments’ Financial Health during Coronavirus. Get a quick summary of 10 lessons from past viral outbreaks for today’s economic policymakers.
Inter-American Development Bank
Covid-19: Transparency to ensure effective policies in times of crisis.
Blog entry in Spanish.
Open Contracting Partnership
Monitoring Covid-19 emergency procurement with data.
OECD: Use of Open Government Data in Covid-19 Outbreak
Open Data team are looking for examples on how open data is to supporting governments’ policies & actions to manage this crisis.