Open Budget Survey 2017: Macedonia lacks budget transparency

Macedonia has been ranked amongst the countries having poor budget transparency, the Center for Economic Analyses  (CEA) said Tuesday citing the Open Budget Survey 2017 of the International Budget Partnership (IBP).

After the erosion of fiscal discipline and wide-scale abuse of executive power to the point when the ruling party’s style of governance by the former administration before the December 2016 early parliamentary election was labelled as ‘state capture’, findings of a major independent global report suggest the new government in Macedonia could improve transparency quickly, with little cost and effort, according to the CEA.

“Even though a lot has been done after the former administration lost power, which had eroded the fiscal discipline and the fiscal transparency, still a lot needs to be done. Macedonia is yet to improve its draft-budget to present more budget information, to make sure the public is engaged in the budget process and to enhance budget oversight both by legislators and audits,” Marjan Nikolov, Head of the CEA told a news conference Tuesday.

Macedonia, he said, scored 0 on the opportunities the government provides for public participation in budget processes.

“Without opportunities ensuring public participation – particularly the citizens from marginalized or vulnerable groups – budget systems may only serve the interests of powerful elites. The government, Parliament and the State Audit Bureau must take measures to improve public inclusion in the budget process and in the budgetary cycle,” noted Nikolov.

The lack of strong budget accountability systems and practices poses a potential threat to Macedonia, according to him.

“The government should improve comprehensiveness and usefulness of the information in the key budget document, Parliament should make it easier to include experts and citizens who will discuss audit reports together with the MPs. The State Audit Bureau on its part should make available a more transparent engagement,” stated CEA Head Nikolov.

Launched in 2006, the OBS is the world’s only independent, comparative assessment of the three pillars of public budget accountability: transparency, oversight and public participation. The sixth round of this biennial assessment, the 2017 survey, evaluated 115 countries across six continents, adding 13 new countries to the survey since the last round in 2015.

Macedonia has been included in the report since 2008.