Publish accessible budget information online for citizen engagement (AL0072)
Action Plan: Albania Action Plan 2020-2022
Action Plan Cycle: 2020
Lead Institution: Ministry of Finance and Economy
Support Institution(s): State actors involved Other government agencies involved: The Institute of Statistics (INSTAT), Water Supply Sector and other SOE-s, Line Ministries, Contracting Authorities for Concession/PPP contracts with budget support, Non-governmental agencies involved:Most of the CSO in Albania, which mission is related with economic development and public finance issues/ Universities/ Faculty of Economy.
Policy AreasE-Government, Fiscal Openness, Legislative Oversight, Public Participation, Public Participation in Budget/Fiscal Policy, Publication of Budget/Fiscal Information
What is the public problem that the commitment will address? Transparency, public participation, and legislative oversight in the development of budgets creates better outcomes and are the main issues to better improve the citizen access on fiscal documents.Increasing accountability over the budget and fiscal cycle deters waste and corruption and ensures that budgetary decisions and spending reflect the people’s interests. Through transparency, public participation and legislative oversight this openness can help combat corruption. Increasing transparency and public participation across the budget and fiscal cycle is particularly important for Albania. In recent years fiscal transparency has been increasing in Albania. Between 2010 and 2019 Albania’s score on the Open Budget Index6 (OBI) has increased from 33 to 55 out of a possible 100. While encouraging, according to the OBI’s 2019 assessment Albania have done progress but still does not publish enough material to support informed public debate on the budget7 . In the 2019 assessment of the online availability, timeliness, and comprehensiveness of eight key budget documents Albania ranked 43r d out of 117 countries. In order for fiscal transparency to facilitate the citizen empowerment necessary to scrutinize public finances and therefore promote public financial accountability the publication of documents alone will not be sufficient. Without increasing the accessibility of fiscal information fiscal transparency will not be effective in promoting more accountable fiscal governance. Thus, efforts towards fiscal openness in Albania will aim to facilitate increased public understanding. The OBI has recommended that Albania expand the financial and policy information in the Executive's Budget Proposal, Year-End Report, and Mid-Year Review to be more specific, disaggregating information to provide stakeholders with a more comprehensive understanding.
What is the commitment? Budget transparency consists of publishing budget reports and relevant financial data in formats that are understandable and accessible to all citizens will help to develop the fiscal transparency necessary for citizens to be well enough informed to participate in public debate on aspects of the budget and to meaningfully engage and participate in the planning and execution of the budget. 6 The OBI measures public access to informa tion on how the central government raises and spends public resources and assesses the online availability, timeliness, and comprehensiveness of eight key budget documents 7According to the OBI a fiscal transparency score of 61/100 or higher indicates a country likely publishes adequate information for informed public debate Commitments |Fiscal Transparency | Commitment 8 Due to the technical nature of many public budget and fiscal documents in order for fiscal transparency to be achieved this commitment will establish the timely publication information in a format that is not only easily accessible online, but is also easily understood, uses plain language and includes accompanying supplementary resources or information that explain more complex or technical concepts in laments terms. Further efforts shall be made to engage the public in the budget process so as to promote public accountability to citizens through civic participation. Objective: Albania’s commitment to improving budget transparency aims to guarantee a public finance system that promotes transparency, accountability, fiscal discipline and efficiency in the management and use of public resources to improve the quality of service delivery and economic development. The commitment aims to achieve enhanced accountability and transparency through better financial and non-financial performance reporting in line with international standards to improve coverage, quality and accessibility of information on public finances and promote civic engagement throughout the budget cycle. Expected results: • A sustainable statistical system for the general government units is in place; • Timely and reliable government financial statistics; • Published in year and annual financial reports contain accessible financial and non-financial performance information; • Strengthened financial oversight and management of the fiscal risks; • Formal opportunities provided for the public to engage in the planning and execution of the budget; • More structured and timely engagement with citizens, civil society organizations and academia in budget planning, monitoring and reporting.
How will the commitment contribute to solving the public problem? To establish increased budget transparency this commitment will prioritize alignment with international methodologies for statistical information, strengthening the sale, scope, timeliness and accessibility of the information published and create opportunities for citizens to engage in the budget process. The timely publication of government national accounts in accordance with the European System of Accounts (ESA) 2010 and using a revised statistical system (milestone 1) aims to ensure the reliability of published government accounts and provide a framework for efficient and accurate complication and publication of financial statistics that aligns with international best practices. To promote public financial oversight and accountability an improved fiscal risk statement will be developed in order to better monitor and mitigate any financial risks (milestone 2). Increasing fiscal transparency requires that the information available be relevant and timely. As such, budget execution and financial annual (milestone 3) and mid-year (milestone 4) reports will be published in year. They will include plain language and supplementary non-financial performance information to be easily accessible to citizens and promote comprehensive of budget related information and reports. Finally a budget hearing calendar for key budget processes will enable (milestone 5). OGP challenge affected by this measures Improve public services Increase efficient management of public resources Increase public integrity Increase corporat e accountability Create a safer community for citizens & civil society ☒ ☒ ☒ ☒ ☐
Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values? Transparency & Access to Information • Does the ide a disclose more information to the public? • Does the ide a improve the quality of information disclosed to the public? • Does the ide a improve accessibility of information to the public? • Does the ide a e nable the right to information? ☒Y es ☐N o As one of the ex pected results is ‘Published upgraded g ov ernment y early budget execution report’ through this commitment more budgetary and fiscal in formation will be accessible to the public through m ore simplified and under standable formats. These upgraded reports will utilize simplified language in order to be understandable by a n on -expert audience. Budget in formation will be improv ed a s stated abov e, but will also be made more accessible through publication on multiple channels including the regular gov ernment websites, a s well a s the OGP website to better reach all cit izen s who may be inter ested in the topic. Public Accountability • Does the ide a cre ate or improve rules, regulations, and mechanisms to publicly hold government officials answerable to the ir actions? • Does the ide a make the government accountable to the public and not solely to inte rnal syste ms? ☒Y es ☐N o Increa sed transparency on budg et issues will make the g ov ernment m ore exposed in the ey es of cit izen s h ow the public money are managed and spent and therefor e, more accountable to the public. Through the increa sed av ailability and accessibility of fiscal information commitment makes the g ov ernment accountable to the public and not solely to internal sy stems, a s one of the main principles that transparency aims to pr omote is the increa se of accountability of the g ov ernment to the public. Public & Civic Participation • Does the ide a cre ate or improve opportunities, or capabilities for the public to inform or influe nce de cisions? • Does the ide a cre ate or improve the e nabling e nvironme nt for civil socie ty? ☒Y es ☐N o This idea improv es opportunities and capabilities for the public to inform or influence decision s, a s it creates more accessible information and on e of its priority measures is to increase citizen’s engagement in the budget pr ocess. The implementation of a budget calendar for hearing sessions, where CSOs are the main stakeholder s, is intended to create and improv e a culture of collaboration and the env ironment for collaboration between CSOs and the g ov ernment. Technology & Innovation • Will te chnological innovation be used in with one of the other three OGP values to advance participation, transpare ncy or accountability? ☒Y es ☐N o Technological innov ation through the u se of a v ariety of channels (MoFE website, OGP website, social network, media, etc.) will be used to pr omote and enhance transparency and engagement through the publication of notification s/news/information relating to the budget that may be of interest to the public. The u se of a v ariety of communication mediums will help to promote continued and increasing engagement with the public and ov er time public trust.
Milestone Activities Milestones Indicators Responsible Institution / s New or Continued Idea Timeframe Measurable & verifiable achievements to accomplish this objective Result Indicators Output Indicators Lead Responsible Institution Supporting / Coordinating Agencies / Institutions New or continued from 2018- 2020 OGP AP Start Date End Dat e Priority Measure 1: 'Government National Accounts' Timely and reliable Government Financial Statistics' Milestone 1: 'Gov ernment National Accounts-Timely and reliable Gov ernment Financial Statistics Compilation of Government National A ccounts according to International Methodology (ESA 2010). The number of tables constru cted against the total requirements was used to measure this indicator. 1. A sustainable statistical system for the general government units is in place; 2. EDP tables will be revised using statistical system created. The Institute of Statistics (IN STA T) Ministry of Finance and Economy (MOFE); Bank of Albania (BoA ) ☐N o ☒Y es (w hich one?) Compile National Government Account according to international methodologies (ESA 2010 and GFS 2014) Jan. 2020 Dec. 2021 Priority Measure 2: 'Financial and performance monitoring and reporting' Published in year and annualbudget execution reports Milestone 2: Fiscal risk management: Strengthened financial ov er sight and management of the fiscal risks in order to hav e an improv ed FRS with more fiscal risks monitored and mitigated if necessary . An improved Fiscal Risk Statement. MoFE Bu dget Institutions, Water Su pply Sector and other SOE-s, Line Ministries, Contracting Authorities for Concession/PPP contracts with bu dget su pport. ☐N o ☒Y es: Presentation Fiscal risks in Fiscal Risk Statements Jan. 2020 Dec. 2022 Milestone 3: Pu blished g ov ernment y early budget execution report. Published in year and annual financial reports contain accessible financial and non-financial performance information MoFE Line Ministries; Bu dget Institutions ☒N o ☐Y es Jan. 2020 Dec. 2022 Milestone 4: Pu blished in -y ear budget ex ecution reports, including the mid-y ear rev iew. Published in year and annual financial reports contain accessible financial and non-financial performance information MoFE Line Ministries; Bu dget Institutions ☒N o ☐Y es Jan. 2020 Dec. 2022 Priority Measure 3: Citizens’ engagement in the planning and execution of the budget Milestone 5: Formal opportunities are pr ov ided for the public to engage in the planning and execution of the budget. A budget hearing calendar with key bu dget processes is in place and implemented. MoFE Line Ministries; Bu dget Institutions ☒N o ☐Y es Dec. 2020 Dec. 2022
IRM Midterm Status Summary
Action Plan Review
Commitment #8: Budget transparency
● Verifiable: Yes
● Does it have an open government lens? Yes
● Potential for results: Unclear
IRM End of Term Status Summary
Commitment 8. Budget transparency
• Verifiable: Yes
• Does it have an open government lens? Yes
• Potential for results: Unclear
• Completion: Substantial
• Did it open government? Marginal
This commitment was aimed at increasing budget transparency by ensuring the provision of timely statistics, improved fiscal risk management, publication of biannual and annual budget execution reports, and involving the public in budgetary processes.
The Ministry of Finance and Economy (MFE) published the 2021 annual budget execution report (milestone 3),  annexes detailing fiscal risks for the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years (milestone 2), and the mid-term reports for the years in the action plan cycle (milestone 4).  The government also published a 2020 budget hearing calendar (milestone 5).  Albania’s Institute of Statistics provided the IRM with evidence of compiled government national accounts for 2021-2023 (milestone 1).  The EC has noted that there is still significant improvement needed to achieve full compliance with European System of Accounts, although there has been progress. 
According to the MFE, all budget execution reports are published in accordance with the definitions in the Organic Budget Law and other by-laws in accordance with the recommendations of international experts.  The MFE considers the timeliness of these reports to be sufficient,  however, the EC noted that more efforts are needed to ensure timely publication of those reports.  Overall, this commitment represented a marginal step in improving fiscal transparency.