Culture & Society
Written By: Afrah Nasser
Article Date: Jan 19, 2011 - 4:38:09 PM
CDPF aims to bring light into Yemen's level of transparency.
In a recent report done by the International Budget Organization (IBO), it’s reported that Yemen’s Open Budget Index (OBI) for 2010 score is 25 out of 100, which is less than two-thirds of the averages score (42) for the 94 countries surveyed in the report.
The score is intended to reveal the level of transparency a country has. Yemen’s score on the Open Budget Index shows that the government gives the public little information on the central government’s budget and financial activities during the course of the budget year. This makes it very difficult for citizens to hold government accountable for its management of the public’s money. It presents the ways the government plans to raise revenues and where these funds are allocated, thus transforming policy goals into action.
That was stated during a meeting done by and at the Cultural Development Programs Foundation (CDPF). Under the frame work of CDPF’s project on advocacy on transparency, the foundation has already conducted meetings and workshops for the last couple months on advocacy to increase accessing more information on Yemen’s budget. “The foundation is a patron of this project –collaborating to conduct the report with IBO- because of the report’s content’s great significance in achieving development in the country. Simply, it’s very important because of the fact that governments carry on its goals in reality according to those budgets and it encourages people to question governments,” said Intsar al-Shawafi, head of CDPF’s training unit.
The score Yemen obtained from OBI is less than two-thirds of the averages score (42) for the 94 countries surveyed in the whole report for 2010. There has been a progress in Yemen recently. Its score increased substantially from 10 to 25 from 2008 to 2010, largely because the government started publishing its Executive’s Budget Proposal (is the government’s most important policy instrument. It presents the ways the government plans to raise revenues and where these funds are allocated, thus transforming policy goals into action. “In 2008 Yemen had the 9th score and today we improved and we seek to improve the situation more,” said al-Shawafi.
Additionally, the report stated that in the middles East and North Africa region, Yemen’s score is only slightly higher than the average score of 23 for the other countries surveyed and lags behind Egypt (49) and Jordan (50). “We are certain that it’s not going to be easy to accomplish the major goals but we can make it through tackling subsidiary goals in the coming Years. Most importantly, the foundation aims to collect public momentum from governorates through our coming work,” added al-Shawafi.
According to Yahya al-Sharki, CDPF’s executive director, in 2006 Yemen was totally not in the assessment. “When we noticed that, the foundation helped in including it in the coming reports. Our main aim was to help citizens have an easy access to governmental documents and easier governmental procedures. And that’s what transparency is really all about!” said al-Sharki.
The main obstacle in establishing transparency is corruption in a huge number of Yemeni governmental institutions. Al-Sharki pointed out that governmental documents are truthful yet the implementation system is corrupted, “In 2008, Yemen scored the 9th score which was terrible and sad score, but now things improved. Yemen now is at the 25th score and that happened simply by putting some documents available online from several ministries. Generally, those documents have accurate numbers and calculations but the execution system is corrupted.”
“It’s not necessary that a country which is poor must not have transparency! Take Nigeria as an example. It’s well-corrupted however it has a better transparency than what we do have,” added al-Sharki.
The foundation did a simple trick to measure the transparency level in a certain governmental institution. They sent one person to seek some information and he was hugely questioned. “The trick was simple yet profound. We made the person ask about information that is very relevant to his files. He encountered many difficulties. As an ordinary citizen he claimed his rights. It’s been four years and he still couldn’t access those documents,” explained al-Sharki.
“This is sad. There will never be a development without having a transparent view on the country’s financial aspects. Documents should be transparent and easily revealed to citizens. How could we know what money goes to whom and yet accomplish developmental goals! Unless we have clearer look on that or we can never question anything,” added al-Sharki.
Open Budget Index focuses on how countries are providing information to the public and Yemen scored 25 and that means it provides the minimal information to the public in its budget documents during 2010. The scores are based on 92 questions from Open Budget survey and their answers. The answers’ nature formed the ranking of the relative transparency of each country’s process on revealing its budget. Overall, these scores constitute the Open Budget Index.
In Yemen, the budget proposal is published but is far from being comprehensive. Major gaps in information in the budget proposal are found in the following several areas like that one related to the Year-End report, a report that informs policymakers on tax policies, debt requirements, and major expenditure priorities, thus facilitating adjustments for upcoming budget years. However, Yemen publishes a Year-End Report, but it has serious deficiencies. For example, it doesn’t explain the difference between the enacted levels of expenditure and revenue and the actual outcomes.
Still, Yemen’s score indicates that the government provides the public with minimal information on the central government’s budget and financial activities assessed by the survey. This makes it extremely difficult for citizens to hold the government accountable for its management of public’s money. Some of the report’s recommendations are that Yemen should publish on the government’s website budget documents that are already being produced. Such as the Pre-Budget Statement and the Notes on Items of the Public Budget of the State. It should improve the comprehensiveness of the Executive’s Budget Proposal, the Enacted Budget and the Year-End Report. Mainly, it asks Yemen to provide more comprehensive and oversight of the budget to the public.
CDPF is conducting the project in cooperation with UNDP. The project is titled with, “Enhancing public partnership with transparency”. The project aims to strengthen and deepen Yemen’s transparency. It collaborated with the Open Budget Initiative Consultation, an international assessment company for countries’ transparency.
CDPF’s project takes place in 5 governorates; Sana’a, Aden, Hadarmout, al-Hudidah and Amran, from September 2010 until January 2011. The project aims to highlight the transparency level’s assessment in Yemen under the frame work of the international report by International Budget Partnership (IBP); Open Budget Index (OBI).
IBP has conducted the report in cooperation with 94 Search and Study institutions and civil society around the world whose work formed the reports’ content. The whole initiative was financed by the International Development Ministry in UK and other sponsors.
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