The Minister of Finance of Georgia, Nodar Khaduri, on air on Maestro TV, summarised the Ministry of Finance’s last three years of work. Mr Khaduri underlined that important steps have been taken during this period to improve the transparency of the budget and interested individuals are able to see how and where the state budget is being spent online every day.FactCheck
verified the accuracy of the Minister of Finance’s statement.
Budget transparency implies that discussion procedures for budget projects in representative bodies are open to the public and the media as well as the publication of the approved budget and reports of its fulfilment and the accessibility of budget information (with the exception of secret information) for every person or legal entity.International Budget Partnership, an international organisation, publishes the Open Budget Index
Rankings biannually (Transparency International Georgia is International Budget Partnership’s local partner and conducted some research about the Open Budget Index Rankings. The Index assesses the budget transparency level of a given country). The organisation’s survey was carried out in 102 different countries. There were 109 indicators used to measure transparency and assess whether or not the central government ensures the timely accessibility to eight major budget documents (see table 1) for the public and if the data given in the documents is comprehensive and usable.
Accessibility to Eight Major Budget Documents in Georgia (2006-2015)
|Major Data and Direction of the Country|
|Draft State Budget|
|Law on Budget|
|Citizens Budget Guideline|
|State Budget Quarterly Fulfilment Reports|
|Six-Month Report of State Budget Fulfilment|
|12-Month Report of State Budget Fulfilment|
|State Audit Office’s State Budget Fulfilment Report|
Source: Transparency International Georgia
According to the 2015 report, improvements as compared to 2012 are registered in the following components: the Ministry of Finance compiled and published the Citizens Budget Guideline as well as made improvements to the quarterly and annual budget fulfilment reports. However, the fact that the six-month budget fulfilment report has not been prepared or published still remains a problem.Georgia received 11 points more in the Open Budget Index Ranking than it received in 2012 and accumulated 66 points in total which means that its budget transparency level is high. The country ranks 16th among the 102 countries. In the region, Georgia is outperformed only by Russia with its 74 points. In 2012, Georgia was in the 33rd place. Passing the 80 point mark indicates a very high transparency level. Therefore, in this regard Georgia is still in need of more progress. New Zealand occupies the 1st
position in the Open Budget Index Ranking.
Georgia’s Position in the Open Budget Index Ranking
|Points (Out of 100)||34||53||55||55||66|
Within the framework of the Open Budget Index, together with budget transparency, the extent to which a government offers the public to be involved in the budget process is also studied. Georgia received 46 out of 100 points in terms of public participation which means that the public has only limited possibilities to be involved in the country’s budget processes.
The Minister of Finance emphasised that together with increasing the level of budget transparency, interested persons are able to see online upon a daily basis how the state budget is being spent. On the website of the Treasury Service, it is indeed possible to see the daily expenses of the state budget. For this, one needs to select the "Daily Operative Information" section in the category of "Budget" and download the document (file) entitled Fulfilment of State Budget Expenses. The document illustrates the amount spent by a particular state organ and the purpose for the expenditure as of the previous day. It also shows the quarterly plans and amount of money which should be spent by the end of a particular quarter. The document is updated and published every day with the exception of Saturday and Sunday as no expenses are made from the treasury during weekends.
Conclusion According to the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Index Ranking, Georgia’s budget transparency level improved in 2015 as compared to 2012 owing to the improvement of the content of different budget related documents and their timely publication. In 2015, Georgia received 66 points in this component and ranked 16th
among the 102 countries surveyed. This indicates that Georgia’s budget transparency level is high.
However, Georgia’s points are lower in terms of public involvement in budgetary processes. Georgia received 46 points in that component which means that the public has limited possibilities to be involved in the country’s budget processes.
In regard to the possibility that interested persons can go online to see how and for what purposes the state budget is being spent is indeed true. The Treasury Service publishes daily operative information about budget expenses (with the exception of weekends).Therefore, FactCheck concludes that Nodar Khaduri’s statement is TRUE.