Egypt budget transparency improved, though information still limited, oversight weak: IBP survey

Ahram Online , Tuesday 30 Jan 2018

Egypt provides the public with limited budget information and allows only weak oversight of its budget, although the country's transparency level has significantly improved over the past three years, a survey by International Budget Partnership said.

Egypt has scored 41 out of 100 in transparency on the Open Budget Index, an independent measure of central government budget transparency, according to IBP's Open Budget Survey 2017.

The score is a significant increase since Egypt’s 2015 Open Budget Index, where the country scored only 16 out of 100.

During the period between 2006 and 2017, Egypt saw the highest transparency level on the Open Budget Index in 2010, scoring 49.

IBP recommended that the country take actions to improve budget transparency, including publishing a mid-year review, a year-end report, and an audit report online, as well as increase information on performance and policy and those offered in the pre-budget statement.

Headquartered in the United States, International Budget Partnership is an independent NGO that works with civil society around the world to promote effective governance and alleviate poverty.

In terms of public participation, Egypt scored 11 out of 100.

"Egypt provides few opportunities for the public to engage in the budget process," the survey said.

However, Egypt – along with to Jordan – was the best performer in this regard when compared to other countries in the region, with Qatar and Tunisia scoring a meager 2, while all the other countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Algeria, scored zero points.

The organisation recommended that legislative hearings on the formation of the budget be held, where members of the public and civil society can testify, and that the public should assist in audit programmes and investigations.

When it comes to budget oversight, Egypt scored 29 out of 100.

"The legislature and supreme audit institution in Egypt provide weak oversight of the budget," the survey said.

It recommended that Egypt should ensure that a legislative committee publish online reports on in-year budget implementation, require legislative or judicial approval to remove the head of the supreme audit institution, as well as consider setting up an independent fiscal institution to further improve budget oversight.

IBP considers countries that score above 60 on the Open Budget Index and on participation and oversight as providing sufficient budget information and adequate opportunities for the public.

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