Report: Tanzania ranking on budget transparency on the decline

Thursday July 2 2020

Finance and Planning minister Philip Mpango

Finance and Planning minister Philip Mpango shakes hands with Sweden’s ambassador to Tanzania, Anders Sjoberg, after concluding talks on bilateral cooperation covering various sectors in Dodoma recently. Dr Mpango’s docket is responsible for the country’s budget preparatory processes, as well as its implementation. PHOTO | FILE 

By Louis Kolumbia @TheCitizenTZ news@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania can improve its ranking in budget transparency by timely publishing information on its budget processes, a new report suggests.

The Open Budget Survey (OBS) stresses that it is crucial to publish the Executive’s Budget Proposal and In-Year Reports online in a timely manner as part of the requirements for raising openness.

OBS is part of the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Initiative, a global research and advocacy programme to promote public access to budget information and the adoption of accountable budget systems.

These budget transparency recommendations come as Tanzania’s ranking in the global survey has deteriorated, according to the Open Budget Survey 2019. The report is the latest and confirms that the country’s status has been on the decline since 2015.

“All volumes of the budget books should be posted online in draft form, as submitted to the National Assembly, before the budget is approved. The Executive’s Budget Proposal should be published at least in advance of the budget being approved by the legislature,” reads in part the report.

It suggests that the In-Year Reports should be published within three months of the end of the respective reporting periods. It also recommends to “produce and publish the Mid-Year Review and Year-End Report online in a timely manner.”

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Tanzania is currently listed as among countries which provide insufficient or no information about budget.

For instance, the Executive’s Budget Proposal for 2018/19 which was submitted by the executive to the legislature for approval was only available in hard copy, the report states.

The In-Year Reports which include information on actual revenues collected, actual expenditures made, and debt incurred at different intervals; issued quarterly or monthly, was produced late in 2017/18 and 2018/19, while the Mid-Year Review that gives update on the implementation of the budget was not produced.

The year-end report that describes the situation of the government’s accounts at the end of the fiscal year and an evaluation of the progress made toward achieving the budget’s policy goals was also not produced for 2016-17.

Deteriorating ranking

In 2006 when the first edition of the Open Budget Survey was launched, Tanzania was ranked 25th of the 59 countries surveyed. Tanzania scored 58 percent of the assessment indicators that year.

The performance has been volatile and deteriorated to position 102 of 117 countries surveyed for the 2019 report, with a score of 17 percent against a global average which was 45 percent.

The country had a better rating in 2017 when its score increased by 10 percent in 2017.

The raise was after timely publishing the citizen budget online and increasing the information provided in the Pre-Budget Statement and Enacted Budget.

In the East African region, Tanzania was ranked 4th in 2019 behind Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda which had better ranking. It was followed by South Sudan and Burundi.

Globally, New Zealand (87), South Africa (87), Sweden (86), Mexico (82), Georgia (81) and Brazil (81) were the top six countries in budget transparency with their scores for 2019 in brackets.

The countries of Yemen (0), Venezuela (0), Comoros (0), Qatar (1), Sudan (2) and Algeria are the least transparent in the budget openness ranking for 2019.

First launched in 2006, the Open Budget Survey is an independent, comparative, and fact-based research instrument to measure transparency, public participation in the budget process and oversight done by institutions such as the legislature and the audit office.

The initiative is based on the idea that all people in a country should have access to relevant information on how public resources are raised and spent, opportunities to contribute to policy decisions that affect their livelihoods and futures, and assurance of robust budget oversight by independent well-informed legislatures and audit institutions.