Nigeria among ‘slightly improved’ in global rankings on budget transparency, as government does more to enable citizens to understand and influence the use of public money
Major independent global report finds that the government of Nigeria has increased the amount of budget information it makes available to the public but reveals that overall country systems for ensuring budget accountability around the world are deficient
Abuja, Nigeria, September 10, 2015 – Nigeria has improved public access to budget information slightly over the past three years, according to the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey 2015.
The report, the fifth of its kind, is the world’s only independent, comparative survey of budget transparency, citizen participation, and independent oversight institutions in the budgeting process. Combined, these components are the main pillars of accountable budget systems.
Assessing 102 countries around the world, the 2015 Survey finds that Nigeria is among the countries that have risen slightly on the Open Budget Index, or OBI, which uses internationally recognized criteria to give each country a transparency score on a 100-point scale. Nigeria’s OBI score increased from 16 in 2012 to 24 in 2015. This means that citizens have improved access to the information they need to participate in decision making and hold the government to account.
“Nigeria’s score of 24 on the 2015 Open Budget Index is higher than its score in 2012. However, the government of Nigeria has been inconsistent on which documents are made publicly available in a given year.
Since 2012, the government has increased the availability of budget information by publishing the Citizens Budget and improving the comprehensiveness of the Executive’s Budget Proposal, the Enacted Budget and Year-End Report.
However the government has failed to make progress in the following ways: not making the Mid-Year Review and Audit Report available to the public; publishing an Executive’s Budget Proposal that only contains minimal budget information,” said Engr. Ralph Ndigwe (Researcher), of Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre, Enugu, which conducted the research for Nigeria. “There is still room for improvement if the government will do the following to improve budget transparency: publish a Mid-Year Review and Audit Report, publish in a timely manner the Pre-Budget Statement and In-Year Reports, increase the comprehensiveness of the Executive’s Budget Proposal by presenting more details on classification of expenditures for future, prior and budget years and classification of revenues for future and budget years.”
Overall, the Open Budget Survey 2015 finds that 98 of 102 countries surveyed lack adequate systems for ensuring that public funds are used efficiently and effectively. The 98 countries fall short on at least
one of the pillars of accountability (transparency, public participation, and strength of oversight); 32 of these fall short on all three. The widespread lack of strong budget accountability systems poses a
threat to the implementation of critical international agreements, such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the international agreement that is expected at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference.
On the first pillar of transparency, a mere 24 countries—less than one in four— score over 60 out of 100 on the OBI and thus provide citizens with sufficient information to enable them to monitor the government’s use of public money. Alarmingly, the remaining 78 countries that provide insufficient
budget information are home to 68% of the world’s population. Seventeen of these countries provide scant or no budget information to their citizens.
However, the study finds that budget transparency is generally improving—a finding consistent with previous reports. The average OBI score has increased to 45. Progress was particularly robust among some countries and regions that were previously not as transparent, including the Kyrgyz Republic (its OBI nearly tripled), Tunisia (its OBI effectively quadrupled), and Francophone West Africa.
Compounding the widespread lack of transparency that nonetheless remains is a similar lack of opportunities for public participation and oversight. With scores of 60 or less on this part of the survey, 95 of 102 countries fall short in providing opportunities for public participation. Further, the survey finds that legislative research and analytic capacity, as well as quality assurance systems in most national audit bodies, are lacking, severely compromising the ability of oversight institutions to be effective guardians of the public purse.
Nigeria scored 25 out of 100 on the opportunities the government provides for public participation in budget processes. With regard to the strength of Nigeria’s formal oversight institutions, the score for the legislature was 40 and the score for the supreme audit institution was 0. To improve budget participation, the Nigerian government should do the following: a) Establish credible and effective mechanisms (i.e. public hearings, surveys, focus groups) for capturing a range of public perspectives on budget matters. b) hold legislative hearings to review and scrutinize Audit Reports. c) Establish formal mechanisms for the public to assist the Auditor-General’s office formulate its audit program and participate in audit monitoring and investigations.
Combining all three pillars, only four countries, Brazil, Norway, South Africa, and the United States, provide sufficient budget transparency, establish sufficient opportunities for public participation, and have adequate formal oversight institutions.
In contrast, the survey finds that 32 countries are insufficient on all three pillars of accountability. These include a number of countries that have consistently provided scant or no budget information at all: Algeria, Bolivia, Cambodia, China, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Iraq, Myanmar, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
“The public needs access to budget information and opportunities to participate throughout the budget process. Coupled with oversight by legislatures and audit institutions this contributes to a more accountable use of public money,” said Warren Krafchik, Executive Director of the International Budget Partnership. “A growing body of evidence indicates such budgetary checks and balances yield better outcomes for people, especially those who are poor or vulnerable.”
However, substantial progress can be achieved quickly. For instance, the survey finds that most of the least transparent countries actually produce significant budget information for their internal use; major gains could be made at little cost by just posting these documents on the government website.
The means and mechanisms to establish these budget accountability pillars are readily at hand. Ultimately, advancing transparency, participation, and oversight almost always comes down to a question of political will.
While Nigeria has taken steps to improve, this progress must continue. “The government has done much to lay the foundation for a truly open budget; with political will, this can be improved on progressively. There will be a civil society-government round table/conference in November, to dig deeper into these issues and think about ways to improve” said Engr. Ralph Ndigwe.
About the Open Budget Survey 2015
The new report examines the current state of budget transparency and how it has changed over time; the degree to which opportunities for public participation in the budget process are present; and the strength of the two formal oversight institutions, the legislature and the supreme audit institution. The report is based on the International
Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey, the world’s only independent comparable measure of budget transparency, participation, and oversight. The Survey is implemented by independent budget experts based in each of the 102 countries surveyed and anonymously peer reviewed by another expert on the particular country’s budget. Governments in all survey countries are also invited to review and comment on the results, and many do so.
The 2015 Survey is the fifth round of this global assessment, which was first undertaken in 2006.
Pillars of Budget Accountability
The Survey consists of 140 factual questions that evaluate three pillars of budget accountability. Budget transparency is rated by the answers to 109 survey questions, which produce a score between 0 and
100 on the Open Budget Index (OBI). The second pillar is evaluated using 16 questions that rate opportunities for public participation. The final 15 questions of the Survey examine the strength of the oversight pillar comprised of the legislature and the supreme audit institution of each country, generating separate scores for each.
Contact: Engr. Ralph Ndigwe, CIVIL RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT AND DOCUMENTATION CENTRE, ENUGU, 08033132493, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the full report and other resources, including country-specific results, please visit: