Civil society budget monitoring for national accountability
Issues highlighted in this report include:
- budget making is where the real prioritisation takes place (where official priority policy issues lose funding, and others, such as state residences and defence, receive their full amount
- prioritisation processes are not always within the control of the national government: it is greatly influenced by donor conditionality, as illustrated by the prescribed time frames and completion points
- budget analysis needs to focus on revenue as well as expenditure. These estimates are often unrealistic, or neglect large chunks of revenue. In addition to over estimating receipts, the estimates can sometimes be too low, to the extent that country governments claim they are exceeding targets
- the importance of understanding the technical issues necessary in carrying out budget tracking work. This needs to cover indicator selection, sampling, selecting training of fieldworkers and researchers, methodology and analysis
- National level work has increased leverage if there are links with international work (which lends itself to additional resourcing and support at the national level). It also drives energy from the Northern public, who put pressure on their governments to ensure targets are achieved
- Global objectives are about more money, and at the national level it is more about money being spent properly
- a need to challenge myths about corruption and absorption, where corruption ought to be tackled directly, and not used as an excuse for inaction
- there is a need to challenge CSOs in the South, while there are very many organisations, but very few are committed to policy work.
Participants at the workshop were drawn from Yemen, Zambia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Tanzania, Malawi, Kenya and Ghana.