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Serbia still ranked low on budget transparency

Main findings:

International research Open budget index (OBI) places Serbia to 47th position out of 102 counties. Transparency Serbia (official chapter of Transparency International) emphasizes that positioning on this highly acknowledged list can be improved if the citizens receive much more possibilities to influence the planning process and to monitor budget execution, if the Government strictly respected existing legal deadlines for budget adoption,if the National Assembly performed its oversight role more efficiently and if more data on public expenditures are provided inpractice.

According to the results of this research that was focused on the Budget for 2014, Serbia is placed, with its 47 out of possible 100 score, among countries that provide its citizens with „limited information on understanding and analysis of the budget“. That is somewhat below the regional average (53 score), better than in previous ranking for 2012 (when score was 39), worse than in 2010 (with score of 54) and slightly better than in 2008 (46).

Poor ranking was influenced by the fact that Fiscal Strategy was published with delay, alongside with executive budget proposal. Poor index was also influenced, like in previous years, by non-publishing of „citizens' budget“– document that would explain the budget draft to citizens, nor mid-year report on budget execution. Despite these serious omissions, score is still better than two years before, due to more information on Budget Law published, which is partially consequence of useful changes of the Budget System Law from September 2012.

In the meantime (2015) Serbia, for the first time, created budget that is fully based on programs, which will most likely influence improving of the score in future. However, there is still no progress in regards to enabling citizens, stakeholders and experts to obtain complete and timely information in the budget preparation process and to influence its content throughpublic debates. Score of Serbiais most devastating precisely in the area of „public participation“– just 21% of possible points,while it was better in regards to the parliamentary oversight 42% and audit oversight 67%.

We hope that publishing of these data will trigger discussion and influence the improvement of regulations, strict respecting of the budget calendar and of obligations from the Law on Free Access to Information of public importance in order to make progress in transparency, comprehensibility, comprehensiveness and control of the budget.

Transparency – Serbia

Belgrade, 16thSeptember 2015