Minor improvements seen in the transparency of provincial budgets
The numbers suggest that most localities have not fully disclosed information about their finances to the public.
The data was published in the 2021 Provincial Open Budget Index (POBI), announced at a ceremony in Hanoi on Wednesday by the Budget Transparency, Accountability, and Participation (BTAP) Alliance, the Centre for Development and Integration (CDI), and the Vietnam Centre for Economic and Strategic Studies (VESS).
Ba Ria – Vung Tau remained at the top of the rankings with 98.59 points. Quang Binh, Khanh Hoa and Quang Ninh are the three most improved localities in the rankings, while Ninh Binh, Tay Ninh and Lam Dong's performances dropped significantly.
POBI is based on three principles: budget transparency, accountability of provincial organisations, and public participation in the budget-building process.
The index aims to encourage greater transparency, accountability and management of public finance; create positive competition between provinces; and ensure public trust in provincial public budget management.
Particularly in the criteria of public participation, POBI has shown that provinces mostly did not allow citizens to join in the budget-building process. The average score of public participation for all 63 localities is just 41.8/100. Da Nang still tops the leaderboard in this criteria, whereas Dak Nong has the worst record with only 8.3 points.
In the accountability criteria, the average score of all 63 localities is 48.2 out of 100, with 41 localities (65.08 per cent) publicising their plan to assess and manage the budget.
"We are seeing more localities publicise their budgets," said Nguyen Duc Thanh, director of the VESS. He adds: "There are 31 localities that fully made their budget public, four more than in 2020."
The report also perceived that most localities that have good budget practices tend to continue these good habits, such as Vung Tau, Vinh Long, Da Nang, Cao Bang, and Lai Chau.
"We hope that localities become more and more serious in publicising budget plans according to the rule of law," said Thanh.
Nguyen Quang Thuong, director of BTAP, said the fact that there were five localities that have a POBI index of 91 or higher has shown that the publicising of the budget according to the 2015 Law on State Budget can be achieved.
"In the future, the localities that have not fully publicised their budget need to do so completely," said Thuong. "Agencies and individuals who did not complete their tasks in publicising budgets must be reprimanded," he added.
At the conference, delegates also recommended localities soon make public documents relating to the 2015 Law on State Budget and the 2016 Law on Information Access.
Localities should also keep improving their performance in budget publication. They should also provide email addresses for the public so that all citizens can join in the conversation and contribute to the public budget-building process.
Source: Vietnam News