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June 27, 2017

Public Participation in Fiscal Policies: Where do we Start?

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Posted by Tania Sánchez Andrade[1]

Public participation in fiscal policy is based on the belief that those who are affected by government decisions have a right to be involved in the decision-making process. The comments or opinions received from the public on fiscal policy issues should be registered, published, and receive a response from the government. In an earlier post in this blog, Murray Petrie discussed what public participation in fiscal policy is, why it is important, and how it has been incorporated in international fiscal transparency standards. More guidance is needed, however, on how governments can meaningfully incorporate public participation in fiscal policy-making. To offer some answers, GIFT has worked systematically during the last five years to generate greater knowledge about country practices and innovations in citizen engagement. It has produced country case studies, the Principles of Public Participation in Fiscal Policy, and a Guide on Public Participation, which is being continuously expanded.

Box

This Guide is intended for ministries of finance and other central government executive departments or ministries; legislative committees engaged in the formulation and review of the budget; citizens and civil society organizations; private sector entities, research institutes and academics that are actively seeking to engage with governments.

By identifying mechanisms and practices that illustrate GIFT’s Principles of Public Participation and organizing them across a range of dimensions, the Guide seeks to provide “how to” guidance tailored to those who wish to implement similar efforts. This guidance is not prescriptive. It provides a growing catalog of viable approaches to the integration of public participation in each phase of the budget cycle, each of which should be analyzed on a case by case basis. This table provides an overview of the nine initial cases, and the box below provides two examples.

For each case, the Guide includes:

  • a discussion of the objectives for engaging the public, and how success is to be measured (when relevant information is available);
  • the authorizing environment that allows or directs officials to engage the public;
  • a step-by-step description of how and by whom the public participation mechanism is implemented;
  • a brief analysis of results and lessons learned;
  • a discussion of which of the ten GIFT Principles on Public Participation in Fiscal Policy the mechanism illustrates in practice;
  • country-specific information on whether the mechanism relates to the central, regional, or local level of government; and whether it is implemented by the executive branch, the legislature, the supreme audit institution, or some other entity.

To generate new ideas, GIFT has launched the Public Participation in Fiscal Policy and Budget Making GIFT Awards scheme (submissions by August 25, 2017). Through this scheme, GIFT is looking for compelling stories of how governments are integrating the voice of citizens in decision making on how public resources are raised and spent. See details here

[1] Global Initiative on Fiscal Transparency (GIFT).

Note: The posts on the IMF PFM Blog should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF or IMF policy.

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