Invite civil society to participate in budget planning at DPBEP seminar (CI0027)
Action Plan: Côte d’Ivoire Action Plan 2020-2022
Action Plan Cycle: 2020
Lead Institution: Ministry of Budget and State’s Portfolio
Support Institution(s): State actors involved Executive Management of Budget and Finance CSOs, private sector, multilaterals, working groups Civil society organizations
Policy AreasFiscal Openness, Public Participation, Public Participation in Budget/Fiscal Policy
What is the public interest issue to be addressed by this commitment? A large number of actors intervene in the preparation of the state budget through several mechanisms, including the budget orientation debate, budget and ministerial conferences. However, citizens are not directly involved in the budget process, and are informed of the budget choices made at the end of the budget cycle. This situation does not help promote more active participation by citizens in the budget process and ownership of public policies by citizens.
What is the commitment? Invite civil society each year to the plenary session of the DPBEP pre-validation seminar, which defines the government's budgetary guidelines, before its presentation to the National Assembly and to the SENATE, from the year 2021.
How will commitment contribute to solve the public problem? Collaboration with civil society aims to inform the population and collect their observations and proposals regarding the budgetary choices that the government is considering. It will enable citizens to better understand and apprehend the priorities of the State for the coming year and to possibly see that their concerns are taken into account in the draft budget.
Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values? This commitment encourages improving budget transparency and citizen participation in the budget process.
Important activity having a verifiable deliverable Start date End date 13 Invite civil society to the plenary session of the pre-validation seminar of the DPBEP 2022-2024 May 15, 2021 July 31, 2021 Identify and invite civil society to take part in the plenary session of the pre-validation seminar of the DPBEP 2022-2024 July 15, 2021 July 19, 2021 Participation of civil society in the plenary pre-validation session of the DPBEP 2022-2024 project July 15, 2021 July 31, 2021 Invite civil society to the plenary session of the pre-validation seminar of the DPBEP 2023-2025 May 15, 2022 July 31, 2022 Identify and invite civil society to the plenary session of the DPBEP 2023-2025 pre-validation seminar June 15, 2022 June 30, 2022 Participation of civil society in the plenary pre-validation session of the DPBEP 2023-2025 project July 15, 2022 July 31, 2022
IRM Midterm Status Summary
Commitment 2: Civil Society Participation in the Multi-Year Budget and Economic Program Document
Open Budget Cluster (Commitments 1 and 2)
(Ministry of Interior and Security, General Directorate for Decentralization and Local Development; Ministry of Budget and State Portfolio; PSCI-PGO) 
For a complete description of Commitments 1 and 2 included in this cluster, see the action plan: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Cote-dIvoire_Action-Plan_2020-2022_FR.pdf
Context and Objectives
This policy cluster aims to increase citizen participation in national and local budget processes. Specifically, through Commitment 1, the government aims to issue a decree, order, and guidelines to standardize participatory budgeting across local governments. Participatory budgeting is a process that enables citizens to directly participate and influence their local government budget. Under Commitment 2, the government seeks to invite civil society organizations to participate in annual plenary sessions to pre-validate national budget guidelines, thereby shaping the Multi-Year Budget and Economic Programming Document from 2021 onwards.
The Civil Society Platform (PSCI-OGP) proposed Commitment 1,  which was endorsed by the OGP Technical Committee to consolidate progress made under past action plans.  The commitment aligns with the National Development Plan and is supported by the United States' Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Open Government Support Program in Francophone Developing Countries (PAGOF), and the European Union.  Civil society and the Ministry of Budget and Finance jointly proposed Commitment 2 to include CSOs in annual pre-validation sessions for the national budget guidelines. Taken together, Commitments 1 and 2 are more specific, and therefore verifiable, than previous open budget commitments. This policy cluster is relevant to the OGP values of access to information and civic participation.
Potential for Results: Substantial
Together, these commitments hold a substantial potential to strengthen budget transparency and civic participation in national and local budget processes. The government's creation of a legal framework and guide promises to formalize and expand participatory budgeting beyond previous commitments. Commitment 2 contains modest milestones to include civil society representatives in only two pre-validation sessions in 2021 and 2022 for the national budget. However, a civil society interviewee stated that this commitment is a reflection of the government's broader willingness to increase civic participation beyond the sessions explicitly mentioned.  Currently, there are no opportunities for the public to participate in budget formation at the national level. Therefore, a formal and standard moment for civil society to influence the national budget document would represent a significant step in the right direction.
Civic participation in budget processes is very limited in Côte d’Ivoire. The 2019 Open Budget Survey granted Côte d’Ivoire a score of 7 out of 100 points for formal opportunities for the public to participate in budget processes. However, this score does reflect improvement from 0 out of 100 points five years ago.  As noted in the action plan, the national budget process does not currently include opportunities for civic participation. However, Côte d’Ivoire's first action plan increased the number of communes practicing participatory budgeting, although the exact number is not clear.  The IRM subsequently recommended that the government establish a legal mechanism to institutionalize participatory budgeting across the country.  The second action plan encouraged more communes to adopt participatory budgeting but did not introduce a legal framework or enforcement measures.  This cluster therefore expands on Côte d’Ivoire's important work at the local level and also introduces moments for participation at the national level.
Civic Participation in State Budget Formation
Under Commitment 2, the government aims to invite CSOs to participate in the 2021 and 2022 pre-validation sessions to determine the budgetary guidelines for 2022-2024 and 2023-2025. In these plenary sessions, participants will pre-validate the government’s Multi-Year Budget and Economic Programming Document (DPBEP), before its presentation to the parliament.  This is a modest aim that will only achieve substantial results if (i) this commitment represents a permanent change to government practice by continuing CSO participation beyond the two years mentioned in the action plan and (ii) civil society input is considered and reflected in the final budget document.
The OGP Civil Society Platform will determine which CSOs will attend the pre-validation sessions. All session participants, including CSOs, can contribute input on budgetary orientations.  A CSO representative explained that the government “may incorporate into the [document discussed] the observations made during the sessions if these prove to be relevant. CSOs will propose modifications to documents if necessary and in accordance with reality on the ground.”  A civil society representative also shared their preference for the government to publish a public report on budgetary discussions, but “the bottom line is that the conclusions or recommendations are taken into account in the outcome document, or in that of the following year if this is the case.”  Civil society representatives also noted that their attendance at the sessions may improve their knowledge of the criteria, priorities and guidelines that inform the state budget. Citizens, through civil society organizations, are then better positioned to evaluate whether these priorities and the resulting budget respond to their needs. 
Civic Participation in Local Budget Formation
Local level participatory budgeting is also at an early stage in Côte d’Ivoire.  Specifically, “government officials and CSOs have still limited knowledge of the principles and rules associated to participatory budgeting” and it seems to be confused with transparency initiatives (citizen budgets).  Participatory budgeting consists of "involving the populations in discussions and decisions concerning the allocation of the municipal budget, either globally, or on a particular theme (the development of a district for example), or on decisions of investment”.  The current action plan commits to the drafting of a decree to institutionalize participatory budgeting at the commune level and an order to create a monitoring body. It also commits to the elaboration and dissemination of a guide detailing the procedures and stages of participatory budgeting. The establishment of a legal and regulatory framework for participatory budgeting in Côte d’Ivoire would begin to address the lack of clarity and political will that has limited its adoption across Ivorian communes. 
A working group composed of four government representatives and two experts in governance and local development will draft the legal texts, which will ultimately be proposed by the Ministry of Interior and Security. Government representatives of the OGP Technical Committee stated that the drafting process will include opportunities for stakeholder consultations—in particular subnational governments, institutions and local authorities—and public comment on the draft text.  The Participatory Budget Monitoring Body is expected to include eight members, three of which from civil society. The criteria to determine which CSOs will participate in the Monitoring Body is yet to be established. 
Members of the OGP Technical Committee shared that citizen participatory committees will also be established through this commitment.  The government aims to establish one committee in each municipality, to be specified in the forthcoming decree. Each committee will include local civil society organizations and local territorial administrators and elected officials. The committees will (i) develop a citizen participation charter or internal regulations for elected officials to sign; (ii) provide guidance and coordinate implementation; (iii) organize meetings, debates, and 'citizen days; and (iv) conduct impact studies. A representative from the General Directorate for Decentralization and Local Development stated that there is currently one such committee operating, in the Tiassalé commune, thanks to the municipal mayor's support. 
Civil society has called for an evaluation of municipalities already engaged in participatory budgeting and for a public consultation with civil society, communities and religious organizations to kick off the legislative drafting process.  So far, participatory budgeting has been unevenly applied across the country through individual projects supported by a diverse set of CSOs and international development partners.  The General Directorate of Decentralization and Local Development reports that it monitors 20 municipalities' use of participatory budgeting. These municipalities are also supported by various partners such as PAGOF and the Forum des ONG et Associations d'aide à l'enfance en difficulté.  Meanwhile, civil society reports that 23 municipalities are engaged in participatory budgeting and 35 have been sensitized to the practice.  The government agrees that the experiences of these municipalities will inform the decree, order and guide.  However, it remains unclear when and how this feedback will be obtained. The government also expects that the legal texts will take into account vulnerable or marginalized groups but cannot guarantee specific content.  The dissemination and outreach activities remain imprecise at this stage.
Ultimately, evidence of substantial results would include activities and documents demonstrating that participatory budgeting has become standard procedure across a majority of communes. The evidence should indicate that citizen suggestions are considered and responded to by the local government. Most importantly, long-term results would include local budgets that closely reflect the needs and priorities of citizens as a result of public input. In this way, Commitment 1 has the potential to significantly expand the number of Ivorians with direct influence on how the local government allocates public spending.
Nevertheless, both government and civil society interviewees stated that establishing a legal, regulatory, and institutional framework will increase public participation in the management of local budgets. A civil society representative anticipates that these commitments will integrate civic participation in the budget process at the local and national level. They stated that, “the texts constitute a guarantee of citizen participation and the implementation of the participatory budget in all localities of the country.”  In sum, civil society stakeholders perceive political will and expect that the commitments will translate into advancing open government and defining a collaborative environment for public decision-making, especially at the local level. 
Opportunities, Challenges and Recommendations During Implementation
A government member of the OGP Technical Committee noted that there is significant national level political support behind the adoption of participatory budgeting legislation. These reforms benefit from the support of the Council of Ministers, who adopted the OGP action plan, and engaged officials in the Ministry of Trade and Industry as well as the Prime Minister. 
Challenges to implementation include a lack of resources and political will at the local level.
COVID-19 presents a hurdle for resource availability and management.  Côte d’Ivoire may require support from development partners to carry out dissemination and training activities “for organizing seminars, caravans or forums.”  The government has also not set aside funding for the Participatory Budgeting Monitoring Body or identified technical and financial partners. Additionally, it is necessary to secure buy-in on the part of local elected officials to integrate participatory budgeting. 
A lack of public budget information and 'budget literacy' among civil society and the public continues to present an obstacle to civic participation.  As a result of a previous commitment, Côte d'Ivoire has published a simplified 'Citizens' Budget' since 2019.  However, a lack of paper publications and dissemination activities, particularly in rural areas, meant that these efforts did not significantly increase citizens' budget knowledge.  A civil society representative noted that limited CSO capacity and information on the government's aims and priorities that guide budget formation inhibits CSO participation.  As a result, the IRM recommends that the Ministry of Budget and Finance continue to expand timely and comprehensive public access to key budget documents in an accessible format. This will ensure that citizens and CSOs have the relevant information prior to civic engagement opportunities.
Côte d’Ivoire can refer to participatory budgeting commitments popular among OGP action plans.  For instance, in 2016, the Madrid city council allowed the public to allocate 100 million euros and propose potential expenditures. The final proposals were then voted on by the population.  In 2013, Ghana established a citizen’s budget and facilitated collaboration between government and civil society organizations to create a participatory budget that reflected the priorities and needs of citizens.  With these opportunities and challenges in mind, the IRM specifically recommends the following:
• Institutionalize civil society participation in national budget processes to ensure civic engagement continues beyond the two pre-validation sessions listed in the action plan text.
• Actively seek out and invite civil society representatives beyond the 'usual actors' to ensure representatives from marginalized communities, such as youth and women’s groups, are included in pre-validation discussions.
• Design a fair and transparent selection process for the inclusion of civil society representatives at all stages, from drafting legislation to monitoring and information dissemination.
• Publish documentation of the discussion and decisions made during the pre-validation sessions for state budget documents, highlighting in particular how civil society input was considered and incorporated.
• Use offline dissemination and awareness-raising activities of the state budget process and of the legal texts on participatory budgeting (such as through print, radio, and workshops) to reach rural and marginalized community members. 
• As recommended by civil society, conduct an assessment on the municipalities that have piloted participatory budgets. This assessment could give greater confidence to local elected officials in the benefits of this practice. 
• Consider opportunities to expand budget transparency and participation in future action plans, such as allowing members of the public or civil society to testify during hearings for the budget proposal and audit report.  The government could also consider opportunities to continue to expand budget transparency, such as timely, accessible, and comprehensive disclosure of the eight key budget documents and greater dissemination of the Citizens' Budget.