Zambia is among the least transparent countries in relation to national budget implementation, according to the Open Budget Survey (OBS) 2017 conducted by the International Budget Partnership.
OPEN BUDGET INDEX RANKINGS
The Open Budget Index is the world’s only independent, comparative measure of central government budget transparency. The Index assigns countries covered by the Open Budget Survey a transparency score on a 100-point scale using a subset of questions that assess the amount and timeliness of budget information that governments make publicly available in eight key budget documents in accordance with international good practice standards.
This is based on the information assessed between July 2015 and December 2016.
Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) Executive Director Fr. Emmanuel Mumba is worried that after recording a 38 percent rate in 2016, the country recorded a dismal eight percent in 2017.
Speaking during a media briefing, on the Open Budget Survey 2017 results launch, Father Mumba says Zambia has not made budget documents available for scrutiny online and in publications.
Fr. Mumba says Zambia’s Open Budget Index (OBI) score of eight percent means that citizens have little or no access to the budget information they need to understand the budget and hold the government to account.
He says during the research period, Zambia decreased the availability of the budget information by producing the year- end reports for internal use only, not producing the pre-budget statement and failing to make available in a timely manner the mid-year review budget documentation.
And Fr. Mumba says African countries will continue being negatively judged on account of poor or dismal perception by the global community.
Fr. Mumba has recommended that to improve transparency, Government needs to be consistent in making publicly available the eight key budget documents through their official websites.
He is of the view that the planning and budgeting bill and the public management bill should be enacted within 2018, stressing that once enacted the bills will help provide for citizens participation and strengthening budget oversight respectively.
Speaking at the same event, Ministry of National Development and Planning Principal Planner Joseph Musonda says Zambia is now finalizing the 2017/2021 7National Development Plan anchored on five pillars.
Mr. Musonda says under pillar five on diversification, transparency and accountability mechanisms are being strengthened.
He has also explained that Information Communication Technology in the country is not developed, thus the challenges in publishing documents online.