KATHMANDU, May 8 : Nepal has been placed at the 65th position among 117 countries in terms of budget transparency and accountability, according to the Open Budget Survey (OBS) released on Wednesday. The survey conducted by International Budget Partnership (IBP) shows that Nepal is not publishing enough materials to support informed public debate on the budget.
The budget transparency and accountability of the OBS takes into consideration the transparency, public participation and the budget oversight. While New Zealand tops the chart with an overall score of 87, neighboring India has been placed at the 53rd position, according to the OBS.
Nepal scored 52 out of 100 in terms of budget transparency in the year 2018, while this has come down to 41 in the year 2019.
The budget transparency of the OBS measures public access to information on how the central government raises and spends public resources. It assesses the online availability, timeliness, and comprehensiveness of eight key budget documents using 109 equally weighted indicators and scores each country on a scale of 0 to 100.
A transparency score of 61 or above indicates a country is likely publishing enough material to support informed public debate on the budget, according to the report. The decrease in the availability of budget information in Nepal in the year 2019 has been attributed to the failure of the government to publish the In-Year Reports (Quarterly Economic Bulletins) online within three months of the end of the reporting period and the failure to publish part of the Year-End Report (Annual Progress Assessment Report-2017-18).
Similarly, Nepal has got a public participation score of 22 from among 100 countries in the year 2019, according to the OBS Survey. This assesses the formal opportunities offered to the public for meaningful participation in the different stages of the budget process.
"It examines the practices of the central government’s executive, the legislature, and the supreme audit institution (SAI) using 18 equally weighted indicators, aligned with the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency’s Principles of Public Participation in Fiscal Policies, and scores each country on a scale from 0 to 100," reads the report.
Likewise, the OBS has ranked Nepal a composite score of 48 out of 100 in terms of budget oversight. This part of the survey examines the role that legislatures and supreme audit institutions (SAIs) play in the budget process and the extent to which they provide oversight; each country is scored on a scale from 0 to 100 based on 18 equally weighted indicators. "The legislature and supreme audit institution in Nepal, together, provide limited oversight during the budget process, with a composite oversight score of 48 (out of 100)," said the report.
The OBS is the world’s only independent, comparative and fact-based research instrument that uses internationally accepted criteria to assess public access to central government budget information; formal opportunities for the public to participate in the national budget process, and the role of budget oversight institutions such as the legislature and auditor in the budget process. The survey aims at helping local civil society assess and confer with their government on the reporting and use of public funds.
"Government budget decisions –what taxes to levy, what services to provide, and how much debt to take on – affect how equal a society is and the wellbeing of its people, including whether the most disadvantaged will have real opportunities for a better life," states the report. "It is critical that governments inform and engage the public on these vital decisions that impact their lives."