Transparency Serbia said on Wednesday that Serbia has dropped eight places on the Open budget index (OBI) and now ranks 70th on the list of 117 countries.
The Open Budget Survey is part of the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Initiative, a global research and advocacy program to promote public access to budget information and the adoption of accountable budget systems.
Serbia was awarded 40 out of a possible 100 points and is ranked among the countries with minimal budget transparency. It got five points less than the global average and three points less than in 2017 when it ranked 62nd. The only country in the region with a lower score is Bosnia-Herzegovina with 33 points. Bulgaria ranked best with 71 points, Croatia and Slovenia got 68, Romania 64, Albania 55 and Hungary 45.
Serbia could have done better if the government and parliament met the deadlines and fulfilled its obligations while drafting the 2019 budget, Transparency Serbia said and added that the government has to draw up semi-annual budget reports in line with international standards while parliament should be more active in monitoring its implementation and debate fiscal strategy and reports from the Fiscal Council.
The organization said that transparency is not enough to improve budget management and that the crucial thing is to include the public in the budget process. It said that pandemic makes budget transparency even more important as a requirement to create trust between the authorities and the public and noted that decisions on extra spending have not been published, that the government failed to offer reasonable explanations for its measures and warned that information on the implementation of those measures has to be made public.