Malawi improves on citizen access to budget information-Survey

Malawi has slightly improved citizen access to budget information over the past two years, according to a major biennial report, 2012 Open Budget Survey (OBS) by International Budget Partnership.

The OBS found that Malawi increased its budget transparency score from 47 points out of 100 in 2010 to 52 points out of 100 in 2012 meaning that Malawians citizens have greater access to the information they need to participate in decision making and hold the government accountable for how it manages the public money.

“Absent information and a lack of participation opportunities mean citizens can neither understand the budget nor hold their governments accountable,” commented Warren Krafchik, Director of the International Budget Partnership.

“It also opens the door to abuse and the inappropriate and inefficient use of public money, undermining equitable economic development at a time when public resources and services are already dwindling due to the financial crisis. This has major implications for the quality of
life for millions of people around the world.”

Kubalasa: Room for improvement
Kubalasa: Room for improvement

“Transparency is one of our most powerful weapons against corruption, waste and bad governance, providing the basis on which people can hold their politicians to account and demand change where change is needed,” commented Justine Greening, UK International Development Secretary.

“The International Budget Partnership, through the Open Budget Survey, highlights some good examples of progress that show what can be done, but it also demonstrates how poorly many governments perform on budget transparency.”

“The poor state of affairs highlighted by this survey is hugely concerning. The UK will use its presidency of the G8 this year to fight for more transparency across the world. The UK Department for International Development is leading by example, using new tools and new technology to make our aid data available to all, and we were named by Publish What You Fund 1 as the world’s most transparent aid organization last year,” Greening said.

Commenting on the report, Executive Director of Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN), Dalitso Kubalasa said government has so far displayed that it can do much better in the quest for budget transparency, especially with the steps it has taken in recent years to make available some of the key budget documents online.

“However, there is obviously room for improvement, if we are to reach the levels of best practices such as in South Africa and others within the region. Government should continue to do more, and it is possible at minimal or no cost,” he said.

The IBP survey uses internally accepted criteria to assess each country’s budget transparency developed by multilateral organisations such as the Internationally Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (Intosai).

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