The Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn) has challenged government to ensure making key budget documents publicly available as a way of promoting National Budget transparency.
Mejn executive director Dalitso Kubalasa said this on Thursday when his institution was launching the Open Budget Survey 2012 findings which has revealed Malawi’s improvement in the level of transparency and public access to budget information.
According to the survey findings conducted by the International Budget Partnership (IBP), Malawi has moved up the ladder by five points to 52 from a score of 47 recorded in 2010.
The increase means that Malawians have greater access to the information they need to participate in decision-making and hold government accountable for how it manages public funds.
Kubalasa, whose institution conducted the research for Malawi, said so far, government has displayed that it can do much better in the quest for budget transparency, especially with recent steps to make available some key budget documents online and in CD-roms.
“However, there is obviously room for improvement, if we are to reach the levels of best practices such as in South Africa and others within the region. Government should continue to do more and if possible at minimal or no cost,” he said.
The Mejn boss said it is imperative that government continues to make key budget documents publicly available and also produce documents such as citizens budget, year-end reports and also pre-budget statement.
He said the impact of open and accountable public finance on development within countries is particularly important as the international community begins to think about the next set of millennium development goals.
Kubalasa recommended that donors should also continue to push for greater transparency and also support domestic oversight institutions in the country.
According to the survey results, Malawi’s score in 2012 is a little higher than the average score of 43 for all the hundred countries surveyed but is below the scores of its neighbours Namibia and South Africa.
According to the findings of the 2012 Open Budget Survey, worst performing countries include Zambia, Qatar, China, Myanmar, and equatorial Guinea while South Korea has emerged the top most country in making its budget process more transparent.
The Open Budget Survey assesses whether the central government in each country surveyed makes eight key documents available to the public as well as whether the data contained in the documents is comprehensive, timely and useful.
The survey uses internally accepted criteria to assess each country’s budget transparency developed by multilateral organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions.