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Jordan regional leader in public budget transparency — IBP

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Feb 06,2018 - Last updated at Feb 06,2018

AMMAN — Jordan was ranked a regional leader in an International Budget Partnership (IBP) public budget transparency survey released in Amman on Tuesday.

IBP presented the results of its 2017 Open Budget Survey (OBS), in which Jordan scored 63 points out of 100 in public budget transparency rankings, above its 2015 level, "making it a high-performing country — above 61 — and ranked first in the Arab World… and an example to be followed".

Launched for the first time in 2006, the OBS report is an independent, comparative assessment of the transparency, oversight and public participation in the national budget of a total of 115 countries, according to an OBS statement.

According to this year's edition of the survey, Jordan is found to offer its citizens access to substantial budget information, having improved its performance compared to the 2015 edition after increasing the availability of data by publishing the Mid-Year Review online. 

“The Jordanian government has actively produced eight key budget documents and made them available to the public online and in a timely manner,” IBP consultant Mohammad Masadeh said, adding “We are pleased with the overall results for our country, and in particular, the government is doing well on providing key budget documents.”

“However, there are still things that the government can improve,” Masadeh continued, recommending “holding legislative hearings on the Audit [Bureau] reports during which officials and citizens can testify, and establishing formal mechanisms for the public to participate in relevant audit investigations”.

Regarding the strength of Jordan’s formal oversight institutions, the Kingdom scored 41 points out of 100 on the performance of legislative and supreme audit institutions. 

Yet, the country can still improve its score by ensuring that the legislative bodies hold a pre-budget debate approving recommendations for the upcoming budget, according to the report. 

The Kingdom received its lowest score in public participation with 11 points out of 100 due to the lack of active participation opportunities for marginalised or unprivileged groups, the report said. 

Compared to the global analysis, Jordan's performance appears to be positive. The OBS 2017 witnessed a decline in the average global budget transparency scores from 45 in 2015 to 43 in 2017.

 “The declines in budget transparency [worldwide] are worrisome against a global backdrop of rising inequality, restrictions on media and civic freedom, and a weakening of trust between citizens and their governments,” said IBP Executive Director Warren Krafchik. 

The decrease was mostly significant in the Sub-Saharan Africa with the average transparency scores falling by 11 points between 2015 and 2017. The rest of the regions experienced small declines with the exception of Asia, where the average results rose substantially. 

 However, the report also showed several global advances towards more open budgets, with the available documents containing slightly more information as compared to the previous years.

 

“Transparency scores in this round of the survey show that any government, irrespective of region or culture, can become more transparent,” said Krafchik, adding that “the vast majority of countries in the world could quickly improve transparency by making documents they already produce publicly available”.

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