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Georgia

Citizen Involvement in Budget (GE0090)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Not Attached

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Parliament of Georgia

Support Institution(s): Initiator: GIZ Programme “Public Financial Management in the South Caucasus”; GGI

Policy Areas

E-Government, Fiscal Openness, Open Parliaments, Participation in Lawmaking, Public Participation, Public Participation in Budget/Fiscal Policy, Publication of Budget/Fiscal Information, Regulatory Governance

IRM Review

IRM Report: Georgia Transitional Results Report 2018-2019

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: No IRM Data

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

2. Increasing Citizen Involvement in the Elaboration and Approval of the Budget

Lead Agency Parliament of Georgia

Partners Public Institution Initiator: Parliament of Georgia
Civil/International/Private Sector Initiator: GIZ Programme “Public Financial Management in the South Caucasus”; GGI

Current Situation and Challenges In order to establish efficient, effective and accountable budget system, it is crucial to ensure citizen involvement in budgetary processes.
According to the Open Budget Survey conducted within the framework of International Budget Partnership (IBP) in 2017, Georgia took the fifth place. Despite receiving high rating in accordance with a number of criterions (80 Points/OBI 2017), the country is still challenged with a low rating (22 Points/OBI 2017) for the criterion of Citizen Involvement in Budgetary Processes.
The nature of the budget process requires that certain activities involve joint effort of key organizations that participate in the process, including coordination and implementation of Parliamentary control on performed activities.

Main Objective

Ensure transparency and increased citizen involvement in elaboration and approval process of the state budget.

OGP Challenge Improving Public Services

OGP Principles Access to Information Accountability
Citizen Engagement
Technologies and Innovation

√ √ √
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) the Commitment addresses
Goal 16
Milestones New/Old Commitment Start Date: End Date:
1. Elaboration of Policy and Guidance Documents (in accordance with OBS and GIFT Recommendations) on Citizen Involvement in the budgetary processes by the Parliament, the Ministry of Finance and the State Audit Office with the participation of civil society, international and donor organizations. 09/2018 07/2019
2. Ensuring accessibility of simple, easy and visually processed information about the state budget / draft budget on the website of the Parliament (GGI) 10/2018 04/2019
3. Review of the Annual Report on activities carried out in order to ensure the transparency of the state budget and citizen involvement in budgetary processes submitted by the Ministry of Finance to the Finance and Budget Committee of the Parliament 02/2019 10/2019
4. Holding civil society consultations with the participation of Parliamentary Committees, the Budget Office, the State Audit Office and CSOs from the day of submission of information on key macroeconomic forecasts and main directions of the Ministries of Georgia to the Parliament of Georgia until the final hearing by the Finance and Budget Committee 01/2019 07/2019
5. Holding civil society consultations with the participation of Parliamentary Committees, the Budget Office, and the State Audit Office from the day of submission of the draft law on state budget to the Parliament until its final hearing by the Finance and Budget Committee 09/2019 11/2019
6. Elaboration and proactive disclosure of the Finance and Budget Committee Report on civil society involvement in the Committee hearing of the main documents on key macroeconomic forecasts, main directions of the Ministries of Georgia and the State Budget Draft Law 02/2019 12/2019
7. Elaboration and proactive disclosure of the Parliamentary Recommendations document by the Finance and Budget Committee of the Parliament of Georgia 07/2018 07/2019
Indicators
Activity 1 (GIZ and the Parliament of Georgia) Policy and guidance documents on citizen Involvement in budgetary processes are elaborated and shared with civil society representatives
Activity 2 (GGI) Simple, easy and visually processed information about the state budget / draft budget is proactively disclosed on the website of the Parliament
Activity 3 (GIZ and the Parliament of Georgia) The Committee has reviewed the report at least once and has proactively disclosed the minutes of the hearing
Activity 4 (GIZ and the Parliament of Georgia) The Finance and Budget Committee has conducted at least one meeting with civil society representatives and has proactively disclosed a report
Activity 5 (GIZ and the Parliament of Georgia) The Finance and Budget Committee has conducted at least one meeting with civil society representatives and has proactively disclosed a report
Activity 6 (GIZ and the Parliament of Georgia) The report has been proactively disclosed on the website of the Parliament
Activity 7 (GIZ and the Parliament of Georgia) • Relevant amendments have been applied to the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament;
• Recommendations have been proactively disclosed on the website of the Parliament

IRM Midterm Status Summary

Commitment 25: Increasing Involvement in the Elaboration and Approval of the Budget

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

“In order to establish efficient, effective and accountable budget system, it is crucial to ensure citizen involvement in budgetary processes.

According to the Open Budget Survey conducted within the framework of International Budget Partnership (IBP) in 2017, Georgia took the fifth place. Despite receiving high rating in accordance with a number of criteria (80 Points/OBI 2017), the country is still challenged with a low rating (22 Points/OBI 2017) for the criterion of Citizen Involvement in Budgetary Processes.

The nature of the budget process requires that certain activities involve joint effort of key organizations that participate in the process, including coordination and implementation of Parliamentary control on performed activities.”

Milestones: 

  1. Elaboration of Policy and Guidance Documents (in accordance with OBS and GIFT Recommendations) on Citizen Involvement in the budgetary processes by the Parliament, the Ministry of Finance and the State Audit Office with the participation of civil society, international and donor organizations.
  2. Ensuring accessibility of simple, easy and visually processed information about the state budget / draft budget on the website of the Parliament (GGI)
  3. Review of the Annual Report on activities carried out in order to ensure the transparency of the state budget and citizen involvement in budgetary processes submitted by the Ministry of Finance to the Finance and Budget Committee of the Parliament
  4. Holding civil society consultations with the participation of Parliamentary Committees, the Budget Office, the State Audit Office and CSOs from the day of submission of information on key macroeconomic forecasts and main directions of the Ministries of Georgia to the Parliament of Georgia until the final hearing by the Finance and Budget Committee
  5. Holding civil society consultations with the participation of Parliamentary Committees, the Budget Office, and the State Audit Office from the day of submission of the draft law on state budget to the Parliament until its final hearing by the Finance and Budget Committee
  6. Elaboration and proactive disclosure of the Finance and Budget Committee Report on civil society involvement in the Committee hearing of the main documents on key macroeconomic forecasts, main directions of the Ministries of Georgia and the State Budget Draft Law
  7. Elaboration and proactive disclosure of the Parliamentary Recommendations document by the Finance and Budget Committee of the Parliament of Georgia

Start Date: September 2018

End Date: December 2019

Editorial note: For the full text of this commitment, please see https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/georgia-action-plan-2018-2019/.

Context and Objectives

In its 2017 Open Budget Survey, the International Budget Partnership recommended that the Government of Georgia provide more opportunities for the public to participate in budget design and implementation processes. It also recommended holding legislative hearings on the formulation of the annual budget, during which any member of the public or civil society organization could testify. [131]

As part of these efforts, the Parliament of Georgia, plans to develop a public participation policy document and guidelines. It will work with development partners and with the Ministry of Finance, the State Audit Office, and civil society organizations (CSOs). The document will follow the Open Budget Survey and the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency recommendations. [132] It also aims to institutionalize mechanisms for increasing public participation in budgetary processes.

The commitment also calls for the development of an online module that will be integrated into the new parliamentary webpage. [133] That webpage will present budget-related information in an easy-to-understand manner, compared to the current practice of publishing the budget draft-law in its original form. According to stakeholders, this module will differ from the existing budgetmonitor.ge. It will provide information about the budget draft-law and not the actual national budget. [134]

Lastly, this commitment also aims to introduce several mechanisms regarding civic participation in the budget process. These include holding consultations with CSOs on key macroeconomic forecasts for ministries, holding committee hearings and consultations with CSOs on the state budget bill, and elaborating and publishing committee reports and recommendations. The aforementioned activities are relevant to the OGP values of access to information and civic participation. The commitment provides specific milestones and indicators and is thus verifiable.

According to an interviewed National Democratic Institute representative, [135] public participation largely depends on the support of donor organizations to Parliament in raising awareness through public outreach campaigns, both in the capital and the regions. Parliament has now committed to disseminate information about the prospective budget, which is a timely and positive step forward. Participants in the IRM researcher’s focus group noted that this commitment includes important activities for increasing transparency and informing the public, [136] Though they were skeptical regarding the citizen participation component. Involving citizens in the budgeting process could be challenging, because they often do not possess specific understanding of this process.

Overall, this commitment includes positive steps for increasing the participation of CSOs in the entire process, including consultations with CSOs from budget submission to the final hearing. The commitment also increases the accountability of the government to the Parliament. However, the mechanisms for engaging citizens in budgeting processes are not explicitly defined, which somewhat limits the potential impact of the commitment. Considering the cumulative effect of all the activities, this commitment could represent a moderate improvement regarding involvement in elaboration and approval of the national budget.

Next steps

The Parliament could improve the scale and the scope of the commitment. This could be done by increasing the number of and expanding consultations about the key macroeconomic forecasts and main directions of the state budget bill to the regions (Milestones 25.4 and 25.5). By widening its consultations, the Parliament could expand limited participation and possibly increase the impact of the commitment.

To stimulate public interest and participation in budgetary processes, the Budget and Finance Committee could promote and hold a public hearing of the Ministry and Finance “annual report about the activities carried out in order to ensure the transparency of the state budget and citizen involvement in budgetary processes” (Milestone 25.3). This hearing would go beyond the regular committee review, creating stronger public accountability links and extending the scope of the commitment.

The Budget and Finance Committee should elaborate a monitoring mechanism to ensure that the government follows the recommendations developed under Milestone 25.7 for the next budget bill cycle.

[131] International Budget Partnership, Open Budget Survey 2017, “Georgia,” https://bit.ly/2E1hNTE.

[132] Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency, “Mechanisms of Public Participation,” https://bit.ly/2LW7yU5.

[133] The launch of the new webpage of the Parliament of Georgia is envisaged as part of Commitment 26 of the 2018–2019 OGP national action plan.

[134] Tamar Sartania, Deputy Chief of Party, National Democratic Institute, interview with IRM researcher, 11 July 2019.

[135] Sartania interview, 11 July 2019.

[136] IRM researcher’s focus group discussion with experts, researchers, and master’s students of public administration, 18 June 2018.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

25. Increase involvement in the elaboration and approval of the budget

Open Parliament

Limited

With the support of GIZ, parliament drafted the public participation policy document and guidelines. However, according to parliament’s self-assessment report, the document was not finalized or shared with CSOs within the action plan timeframe. [87] Parliament also developed an online infographic to be integrated on its new webpage (once the webpage is ready), which will present budget-related information in a user-friendly interactive interface (in English and in Georgian). [88]  

The Budget and Finance Committee reviewed the Ministry of Finance’s report on the ministry’s activities on civic participation in budgetary processes. While parliament aimed to conduct public consultations on the Basic Data and Directions (BDD) document and the Budget Bill, it only organized informational meetings with students on budgetary processes and committee function. [89] [90] These information meetings, however, cannot be assessed as fulfilling this activity according to the OGP action plan, which called for broad consultation with CSOs.

According to parliament’s self-assessment report, the Budget and Finance Committee also prepared a report on civic participation in the budgetary processes. [91] The report was published on parliament’s webpage after the end date of the action plan implementation period.   

 
[87] Parliament of Georgia, Implementation report of Open Parliament Action Plan 2018-2019, 2020, available here  
[88] “Learn more about the budget of your country” available at here  
[89] Meeting of Committee Chairman with the students from Kornard Adenaur Foundation, April 2019; available here. Meeting of Committee with the representatives of Youth Parliament, April 2019; available here
[90] Inga Sanjikashvili, former representative of GIZ South Caucasus, interview with IRM researcher, 12 January 2021.
[91] Parliament of Georgia, Implementation report of Open Parliament Action Plan 2018-2019, 2020, available here

Commitments

Open Government Partnership