Public Participation in the Budget Process: A New Approach

Establishing effective public participation in the budget process is challenging. To assist in overcoming these constraints, governments can tap civil society as key partners in setting up mechanisms that incorporate both the government’s and citizens' perspectives on how to design and implement public participation. It has been shown that participation can help governments to better respond to the public’s needs and can facilitate more effective and efficient execution of public resources[1].

In this vein, the Fiscal Openness Accelerator (FOA) project[3], launched in 2020 by the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT) and the International Budget Partnership (IBP), uses a collaborative approach to advance public participation in the budget cycle of five African countries—Benin, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa. The main goal is to enhance the openness and responsiveness of the national budget process.

Under the FOA project, each country’s Ministry of Finance established an advisory group comprising five to ten representatives from government and civil society organizations (CSOs), with the role of providing the finance ministry with feedback and recommendations on the selection, design, and implementation of the country’s public participation initiative. These groups were also tasked with monitoring the impact of the participatory mechanisms. The exercise was designed to encourage budget authorities to create an effective partnership and dialogue with CSOs, in an open and participatory setting, thus fostering co-responsibility and co-ownership of the process.


Over the past two years, despite challenges posed by COVID-19, these groups have worked to improve public participation at the national level. Some early successes are as follows:

These early successes show how the establishment of civil society advisory groups can provide a useful platform for improving public participation in fiscal policy and budgeting. They also provide the following lessons in setting up effective structures for participation:



[1] See Petrie, M. (2017, June 07). Public Participation in Fiscal Policy. Public Financial Management Blog.

[2] The FOA project is supported financially by the United States Department of State.


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