Wahidullah Azizi, Integrity Watch Afghanistan
Integrity Watch Afghanistan held national launch of Open Budget Survey (OBS) 2017 with the presence of Ministry of Finance, Supreme Audit Office and Parliament’s Commission on Budget and Finance on February 11, 2018, in Kabul. In 2017, Afghanistan scored 49 out of 100 in the OBS 7 percentage point higher than 2015. Afghanistan has been assessed by International Budget Partnership since 2008 and the country made significant improvement from 8 in 2008 to 21 in 2010 and 59 in 2012. Afghanistan, however, witnessed a backtrack in 2015 with a 42 score. While Afghanistan improved its score in 2017 but it is still 10 percentage point less than 2015.
Sayed Ikram Afzali, Executive Director of Integrity Watch Afghanistan, welcomed the improvement of Afghanistan in the survey and regarded the improvement as a result of production and timely publication of mid-year reviews. Speaking to the media at Government Media and Information Center, Mr. Afzali said, “publication of these report alone should not be the main focus of Ministry of Finance but, rather the quality of the reports and public participation should also improve.”
Afghanistan has performed very poorly with 15 out of 100 in 2017 in regard to the public participation while the country scored 27 in 2015 for the same indicator. Mohammad Khalid Payenda, Deputy Minister of Finance, committed to increasing people’s role in the budget process through provincial budgeting. He stated that “provincial budgeting is one of our key reform area in 2018 national budget”.
Oversight in the budget process is provided by the National Assembly and Supreme Audit Office with 43 and 67 out of 100 in 2017. Mahdi Hussaini, the Deputy of SAO, stated that his organization has already prepared a mechanism to involve the public in the budget process. Mr. Amir Khan Yar, the Chief of Budget and Finance Commission of the National Assembly, was hopeful of public participation in the budget process but stated that it will take some time considering the low literacy level to engage people in the budget process.
The biannual Survey carried out by International Budget Partnership (IBP), a Washington based organization, assessed 116 countries around the world in 2017. The index looks at the quality and timely publication of eight key budget documents including the pre-budget statement, national budget proposal, enacted budget, citizens’ budget, mid-year review and audit among others.
Summary of Open Budget Index. To access full report click here.