At a time when large sums of public money are being mobilized to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, transparency and accountability are critical factors to ensure that money is spent fairly. In an opinion piece on the International Budget Partnership blog, Amujae Leader and former Economy and Finance Minister for the Republic of Guinea, Malado Kaba, calls for the digitization of the public sector as a key step in providing better oversight:
“The latest Open Budget Survey (OBS), released by the International Budget Partnership (IBP) at the end of April 2020, found that some of the weakest aspects of budget transparency are the ones most critical for monitoring public resources during times of crisis…..Releasing this information through existing websites or budget portals can help our government share more information with the public almost immediately.”
As countries increasingly focus on domestic resource mobilization amid the crisis, she highlighted the importance of ensuring accountability to local stakeholders and constituencies:
“At a time when support from foreign donors is uncertain and our economy is under strain, local content can enhance domestic resource mobilization by widening the tax base and promote inclusive growth by sharing our wealth and creating jobs. A greater reliance on local procurement does not, however, absolve our government of its responsibility to be transparent and accountable; rather, a shift toward local content should create the incentives for greater transparency and accountability to domestic constituencies.”
Finally, she explored how transparency can also be promoted through greater civic participation and consultation during the decision making process, drawing upon a broader base of stakeholders:
“As a next step, government should also consult with other sections of society, including the most vulnerable communities. This is important, because as IBP Executive Director Warren Krafchik put it, being “open and accountable” with public “budgets is not a luxury.” It is crucial in these troubled times and beyond.”
Read Malado’s full article here.