- Bangladesh's budget is the least transparent in South Asia as its budgeting process lacks public participation and necessary oversight
- Bangladesh's budget transparency score has decreased due to disruption in information disclosure due to Covid-19
- Even though the size of the budget in the country has increased, the involvement of the people is still far behind in publishing budget information
- Bangladesh scores only 13 out of 100 in terms of people's participation in the budget-making process. Nepal and Sri Lanka are ahead in this category
Bangladesh's budget is the least transparent in South Asia as its budgeting process lacks public participation and necessary oversight, according to a survey.
Bangladesh, however, topped South Asian countries in the 2012 and 2015 editions of the survey.
The Washington-based International Budget Partnership and Bangladesh's Research and Policy Integration for Development (RAPID) jointly unveiled the findings of the Open Budget Survey- 2021 at a webinar on Monday.
The survey measures a country's budget transparency score in three categories: public participation, legislative or parliamentary oversight and audit authority oversight.
The International Budget Partnership surveyed the budgets of 120 countries. The position of Bangladesh is 95th there.
Bangladesh scored 30 out of 100 while the global average score is 45. A score below 60 means that the budget is not transparent. Bangladesh's score was 58 in 2012 and 56 in 2015.
Among other South Asian countries, Pakistan got 46, Afghanistan 43, Nepal 39, India 37 and Sri Lanka 30.
The survey found that the people of Bangladesh do not get enough information about the budget.
According to the survey report, Bangladesh's budget transparency score has decreased due to disruption in information disclosure due to Covid-19.
The survey of the Bangladesh part was conducted by Professor M Abu Eusuf of Dhaka University. He said, "Even though the size of the budget in the country has increased, the involvement of the people is still far behind. Besides, we are lagging behind in publishing budget information."
At the webinar, Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Finance Mustafa Murshed said, "All government information is now provided through IBAS++ (Integrated Budget and Accounting System). But it takes time to get information from there."
"Moreover, the government further verifies various documents to provide accurate information, which caused a fall in the budget transparency score," he said.
The survey also said that Bangladesh scores only 13 out of 100 in terms of people's participation in the budget-making process. Nepal and Sri Lanka are ahead in this category.
However, in the 2015 survey, Bangladesh's score in the public participation category was 23, whereas 61 out of 100 is considered sufficient.
The survey says that bringing transparency alone is not enough to ensure good governance. This requires public involvement on a broad basis. If people are more involved in the budget formulation process, transparency in the budget will automatically increase a lot.
The position of Bangladesh is also quite weak in terms of oversight of the legislature or parliament. In this case, Bangladesh obtained 36 out of 100.
The survey says that the oversight of the legislature at the budget implementation stage in Bangladesh is very weak. The budget prepared by the budget-making authority is not presented to the legislature for discussion at least three months before the beginning of the fiscal year and no approval is sought before the implementation of the supplementary budget.
Bangladesh's position is also weak in terms of budget supervision through audit authorities. In this case, Bangladesh got 45 out of 100. According to the survey, the reason for the weak position of Bangladesh in this regard is that the audit programme is not completed on time.
The chief guest of the webinar, Planning Minister MA Mannan said, "No government information is classified. All information should be made public. We are trying to do that."