Budget breakdown

Baitshepi Sekgweng
  • Open Budget Survey finds Botswana lacking

Botswana has continued to perform abysmally when it comes to the Open Budget Survey.

Launched in 2006, the survey is the world’s only independent, fact-based research instrument and looks at three key aspects of a country’s budget: public participation, oversight institutions involved and transparency.

According to the 2021 survey, the nation registered a mark of 34 percent when it comes to budget transparency and a shocking six in public participation in budget processes.

With regards to budget oversight, we scored 52 out of 100.

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This represents a drop in all three categories from the last survey, conducted in 2019, when Botswana recorded scores of 38, 9 and 57 respectively.

The 2021 survey was conducted by Botswana Watch Organisation in collaboration with International Budget Partnership, European Union and UNICEF.

To be considered transparent, documents must be published online in a time frame consistent with good practices and must include comprehensive and useful information.

The survey also measures opportunities for participation in budget policy decisions and oversight by independent legislatures and audit institutions.

With regards to transparency in budget, Botswana ranks 82 out of 120 countries surveyed.

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Despite a low mark in the area, in terms of public availability of budget documents, Botswana has been consistent with providing reports such as pre-budget statements, executive budget proposal, enacted budget and citizens’ budget well on time for public consumption.

It is only in-year report, mid-year review, year-end reports which were either published late, not published online or produced for internal use only during 2021.

Audit report was, however, not produced as per the report.

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The extent of opportunities for public participation in the budget process saw Botswana lacking completely in areas of approval, implementation and audit, earning a sorry score of zero in those sub areas.

It is only in formulation where the country managed 20 marks out of 100, resulting in the overall mark of 6 – the global average is only 14 so it’s not all bad! – which is insufficient for public participation in budget processes.

In order to strength public participation in the budget process the report recommends the Ministry of Finance should prioritise, “Piloting mechanism should be implemented to engage the public during budget formulation and to monitor budget implementation and actively engage with vulnerable and underrepresented communities directly or through civil society organization representing them.”

The report also advices the office of the Auditor General to establish formal mechanism for the public to assist in developing its audit program and to contribute to relevant audit investigations.

It further encourages the National Assembly to allow members of the public to testify during its hearings on the audit report.

The Open Budget Survey is part of International Budget Partnership‘s Open Budget initiative – a global research and advocacy program which aims to promote public access to budget information and the adoption of inclusive and accountable budget systems.

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