Egypt’s Budget Less Transparent Than Mubarak Era, Survey Shows

Egypt’s budget became less transparent after the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak, as successive governments made fewer documents available to the public, according to a survey.

The North African country scored 13 out of 100 in the 2012 survey, down from 49 in 2010, the Washington-based International Budget Partnership said in a report on its website. That places Egypt in the bottom one-fifth of the 100 nations surveyed, below Nigeria, Lebanon and Jordan.

“The government provides the public with scant information on the national government’s budget and financial activities,” the group said in the report. “This makes it challenging for citizens to hold the government accountable for its management of the public’s money.”

Egypt is seeking a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to plug a budget deficit that reached 10.8 percent of gross domestic product, or GDP, last year, according to official figures. The government is seeking to cut spending, especially on fuel subsidies, and raise taxes to cap this year’s deficit at 10.9 percent of GDP and then reduce it to 9.5 percent next year, according to an economic plan linked to the IMF loan.

The widening deficit accompanies a plunge in foreign reserves and a slump in economic output as tourists and investors shunned Egypt amid recurring political tensions after Mubarak’s fall. The country’s benchmark dollar bonds plunged today, sending yields to 7.27 percent at 3 p.m. in Cairo, the highest since June.

Document Release

The IMF has often required borrower countries to make their budgets more transparent.

The Partnership’s survey looks at whether eight key budget documents are made available to the public. In Egypt, only three were published, down from five in the 2010 assessment, the group said. The latest survey was researched in the second half of 2011 when an army-backed government was in power.

The International Budget Partnership works with local groups around the world to advocate more transparent budgets, saying they are central to improving governance and reducing poverty.

In Egypt its partner was the Cairo-based Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, which said on its website that it sent the draft findings to the Egyptian government for comment before they were published.