National Treasury has embarked on an ambitious project along with civil society to develop an open budget portal that will go live in February 2018.
According to the International Budget Partnership’s 2015 Open Budget Survey, South Africa has one of the top three transparent budgets in the world.
More than 70 interested parties gathered at 012Central in Pretoria on Tuesday 26 September to participate in a stakeholder event that gathered input on the development of the portal. National Treasury chief director of expenditure planning, Dr. Kay Brown says this was one of several events that will take place around the country as Treasury engages with civil society on the development of the open budget portal.
We have a lot of transparency but not a lot of participation in the budget 4
“We have a lot of transparency but not a lot of participation in the budget in the sense that we don’t have an informed debate on government policy,” says Brown.
Brown goes on to explain that before Treasury would go on post-budget speech tours at universities and other institutions but not much else would happen with regards to participation in the budgeting process and policies. Treasury now wants to reach out to civil society and other groups such as religious organizations on to see how they’d use the national budget as a tool to change service delivery to make it meaningful for them.
Public Service Accountability Monitor director, Jay Kruuse says they’ve been involved in the development of the portal and are supportive of it in order to improve communication and participation between communities and government around government funding.
“The open budget portal is part of an initiative by Treasury driven by improving openness,” says Kruuse, “South Africa is a signatory of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and commitment two of the OGP is to develop an open government portal.”
Open Up SA director Adi Eyal says development of the portal is an iterative process and will involve a number of stakeholder events and hackathons that will take place around the country over the next three years.
“We want one thousand people to make a significant contribution to the project by the end of it,” says Eyal.