At the end of last year the International Budget Partnership released the Open Budget Survey 2010. Key findings include:
- 40 of the 94 countries surveyed release no meaningful budget information.
- Mongolia and Uganda, while still not meeting best practices, have improved over time.
- There are also some geographic patterns: the United States and the countries of Western Europe tend to be more transparent while the Middle East and Africa tend to be less so.
- South Africa is the top performing country while India, Sri Lanka, and Ukraine all perform relatively well.
- Afghanistan scored 21 points higher than Iraq.
The findings of the Open Budget Index echo some of our experiences trying to obtain data for a number of governments on how much they spend on disasters. Data is hard to come by. We’ve been asked to attend meetings to justify why we want data and to write formal letters requesting data. Trying to find the right person to ask is a large hurdle to overcome, and should you find them emails invariably remain unanswered and phone calls ignored. Yet if an international organisation is having difficulty, imagine how impossible it is for the citizens of that country, let alone the poor and vulnerable.