The country score in the 2012 Open Budget Index (OBI) of the International Budget Partnership (IBP) has witnessed a point drop to 50 from 51 in 2010.
The country score is a little higher than the average score of 43 for all the 100 countries surveyed but is lower than the scores of its neighbours: Malawi, Namibia and South Africa.
Botswana is ranked 4th in the Southern African Region, with South Africa leading, followed by Namibia then Malawi.
Keneilwe Marata, an Associate Researcher at BIDPA, said despite the point drop from last year, the country performance remains the same. The Open Budget Survey measures budget transparency, public participation and oversight in countries around the world.
Marata stressed that Botswana has remained categorized as a country, which makes some budget information available to the public. The Botswana score indicates that the government provides the public with only some information on the national government budget and financial activities during the course of the budget year.
“This makes it challenging for citizens to hold the government accountable for its management of public money,” said Marata.
Under the Open Budget Index Botswana has remained constant in the last two rounds of the survey. With a score of 50 out of 100, the IBP has noted that Botswana has great potential to improve its transparency.
IBP has recommended that in year reports and midyear reviews that it currently produces for internal use be published. IBP also advised that comprehensiveness of the executive budget proposal be increased as well as year-end reports.
The open budget survey assesses whether the central government makes eight key budget documents available to the public. Also if the data contained in these documents is comprehensive, timely and useful. The public is expected to access the eight key budget documents, which are the pre-budget statement, executive’s budget proposal, enacted budget, citizen’s budget, in-year report, midyear review, year-end report and the audit report.
The overall oversight as provided by Botswana has been ranked as strong, scoring a 100 on a 0-100 scale. However, the IBP has recommended that the executive should provide the legislature with the budget proposal at least six weeks before the start of budget year.
In addition IBP encouraged consultations with members of the legislature.
Public engagement in the budget process in Botswana has been viewed as limited with the country scoring 19 on a 0-100 scale. IBP has proposed that public hearings be conducted and allow for testimonials by the public during budget hearings.
Botswana’s performance continues to drop over the years. In 2006, Botswana, under the Open budget Index, scored 65, declining with four points to 61 in 2008. In 2010, a sharp decline with 10 points was experienced to 51.