ZIMBABWE has been ranked 23 out of 100 countries (Open Budget Survey 2017) in budget transparency, an unimpressive ranking, which has an effect of pushing away investors and external funding.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
A recent report by the Parliament Budget Office (PBO) said Zimbabwe’s budget transparency rankings were lower than the desired average score of 42.
“The ranking means that the government of Zimbabwe provides the public with minimal budget information, and that the government is weak in providing the public with opportunities to engage in the budget process,” the PBO report said.
“The rankings for Zimbabwe in the 2012, 2015 and 2017 Open Budget Index are unimpressive and can determine the level of funding from non-governmental organisations and world bodies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB), and moreover, such openness indices are used by international investors to gauge the level of fiscal transparency in a country,” they said.
The PBO said Zimbabwe can improve its score by more than 40 points by merely publishing online to the public the reports that different institutions are generating to enhance transparency and accountability.
The budget oversight by the Parliament of Zimbabwe and the supreme audit institution was ranked 44 out of 100, an improvement from 21 out of 100 in 2015.
Some of the reasons proffered by the PBO for the low ranking were that Zimbabwe has decreased the availability of budget information; was failing to publish its annual reports online in a timely manner, and has reduced information provided in the executive budget’s proposal, and also failed to produce a citizen’s budget or a year-end report.
Parliament was said to be providing limited oversight of the budget with a score of 44 out of 100.
“This score reflects that the legislature provides weak oversight during the planning stage of the budget cycle and limited oversight during the implementation stage of the budget cycle. On the other hand, the Auditor-General provides limited budget oversight with a score of 50 out of 100,” they said.
The PBO report said budgetary transparency is vital, yet Zimbabwe provided a few opportunities for the public to engage in the budget process.
Budget transparency is said to be one of the attributes used by international financiers to gauge fiscal transparency of a country when making decisions on whether to fund a country.