#27 SA in Transparency Accolade

South Africa ranks third in Transparency Survey

Lungisa Fuzile – Director General of Treasury

The Open Budget Index (OBI) assigns countries covered by the Open Budget Survey a transparency score on four measures using a 100-point scale (see scores below).  The survey focuses specifically on whether the government provides the public with timely access to comprehensive information in accordance with international good practice standards.

According to the finding of the latest survey (2015), the most transparent countries, in order of ranking are New Zealand, Sweden, South Africa, Norway and the United States.  These countries make extensive information publicly available as required by generally accepted good public financial management practise.  They all scored above 80 out of a possible 100 points.

South Africa’s ranking of 3rd in the world has to be loudly applauded, although the ranking has slipped from 2nd in 2008, 1st in 2010 and 2nd in 2012.

Over the years, South Africa has consistently entrenched its reputation as a global leader in budget transparency. This is evidenced in the expansive budget information that is published for public analysis and scrutiny, as well as in its performance in international budget surveys.

Past survey results have been used to identify gaps in budget transparency and informed measures and mechanisms adopted to address those gaps. The reforms implemented between 2010 and 2015 include, among others:

  • Introduction of a new framework for Strategic Plans and a framework for Annual Performance Plans
  • Procurement reforms undertaken by the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer to enhance transparency in bidding for government contracts, and
  • Enhanced commitment of the South African Government to engaging with civil society organizations to ensure increased participation in the budget process.

In 2010 South Africa obtained first place in the Open Budget Index Survey. The 2016 ranking of third out of the 102 countries that were surveyed reflected increased emphasis placed on budget participation.

In view of South Africa’s commitment to improving budget participation, the National Treasury is pursing the following measures:

  • Continued support to civil society in their preparation of citizen-friendly publications about national budgets tabled in Parliament.
  • A possible collaboration with civil society organizations that includes looking into creating a data portal in the near future will be looked into, to provide data in a user friendly format and create a social dialogue on budget issues.

South Africa remains committed to constantly improving the budget process in order to maintain its international reputation as a global leader in budget transparency. South Africa continually seeks to enhance the expansive information it provides to its citizens on how public resources are generated and used with the aim of improving budget participation.

The OBI survey provides a comprehensive review of South Africa’s budget process. Citizens are encouraged to use information published in budget documents for effective analysis and research.

SCORES

On Transparency, providing the public with extensive information 86/100

On Public participation, providing the public with adequate opportunities to engage in the process 65/100

On Budget oversight by the Legislature 85/100

On Budget oversight by the supreme audit institution in SA 100/100