For the first time in six years, Egypt’s budget transparency score jumped from 16 to 41 points out of 100, which is nearly the global average score of 43 points.
According to the bi-annual Open Budget Survey produced by IBP, Egypt is in the 65th rank among 115 countries, compared to its 89th rank among 102 countries in 2015. This rank means that Egypt exceed the MENA regional average of 18 by 23 notches.
“This improvement resulted from the efforts exerted during the past three years to develop the transparency and disclosure frameworks,” Minister of Finance Amr El Garhy said, commenting on the final results.
Garhy added that the achieved score (41 out of 100 points) is almost near the global average score of 43 points. “This is considered the first explicit improvement since 2012,” he explained.
IBP collaborates with the civil society to measure the budget transparency level in various countries using the Open Budget Survey, which relies on the analysis of the budget data and the related published reports.
Moreover, IBP assesses the extent to which a government engages its citizens in budget processes and the strength of the government’s formal oversight institutions in supervising the whole process. These institutions are represented in the legislature and the regulatory bodies in general, on top of the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).
In 2006, Egypt’s Open Budget Index (OBI) was 19, before achieving important improvements and scoring 43 in 2008 and 49 in 2010. During the round of 2012, Egypt’s score dropped to 13 in light of the political instability during the transitional period, along with the delay in publishing some fundamental reports. Egypt’s upward trend regained merely three notches to post 16 in the 2015 round.
Vice Minister of Finance for Fiscal Policies Ahmed Kouchouk said that the ministry is keen on continuing the citizen’s budget initiative and preserving the ongoing communication process with the public.
He added that they will provide information about the long-term reforms in order to put community participation into practice.
“This is to encourage the effective participation of the common citizen in the process of decision-making, because it is the citizen’s total right to take part in the preparation of the budget that eventually will reflect the citizen’s needs and provide better future for the descendants,” Kouchouk added.
Sara Eid, chief of the Transparency Initiative affiliated with the Ministry of Finance, explained that their main goal during working on the initiative is not just achieving a high transparency score, but rather the final impact of this initiative on the daily lives of citizens.
They are taking into their consideration to improve the standard of governmental services through raising the efficiency of public expenditure.
“Undoubtedly, it’s a long-term initiative, but we are really confident based on the successes achieved so far that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step,” Eid said.
Eid added in official statements that Egypt succeeded in developing its level of transparency through the efforts exerted to publish some timely reports for the first time, such as the Pre-Budget Statement and Citizen Budget, in addition to the Mid-year Review after its two-year suspension.
The Ministry of Finance also continued to publish the Executive Budget Proposal, Enacted Budget and In-Year Reports, such as the Monthly Financial Bulletin, which measures the actual implementation of the budget during the year after the approval of Parliament.
Moreover, the Ministry of Finance organized several Citizen Budget and Pre-Budget conferences in coordination with other ministries, including the Ministry of Planning and Ministry of Trade and Industry, as well as the Central Bank of Egypt.
The budget transparency report is widely used by international institutions such as the IMF and World Bank, as well as credit rating agencies, as a sub-indicator for safe investment, as it indicates how transparent the country is about its fiscal policies and reforms, which encourage more investments.